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Iran non-oil exports to Britain up 78%

File photo shows a cargo ship belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).Iranâ„¢s non-oil exports to Britain have reached nearly $17...

Are We Trading Our Health For Oil in New, Fracking-Induced California Gold Rush?

Beneath the farms, orchards and vineyards of Central and Southern California lies a prehistoric soup worth a fortune. The mineral-rich Monterey and Santos shale formations stretching 1,750 square miles across the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Basin hold a watery mixture of oil and gas – but it’s the oil that may trigger another gold rush. That is, if companies can figure out a profitable way to tap it.

‘Not on our soil’: US Border Patrol agent won’t be charged over killing Mexican...

US authorities will not bring charges against a US Border Patrol agent who shot dead a Mexican youth suspected of drug trafficking right through the fence insulating the US from Mexico as the Justice Department "lacks jurisdiction" to do it.

Iran non-oil exports surpass $12.5bn

A freighter belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) (file photo)The Islamic Republic of Iran has exported over $12.5 billion of...

Pakistan foils attack on Shia mosque

A Pakistani security official displays explosives next to the body of the attacker at the mosque on the outskirts of Islamabad on August 9,...

'India plans coverage for Iran oil imports'

India is reportedly seeking to devise a mechanism to provide a state guarantee to refineries importing oil from Iran, whose energy sector has been...

The Third Carbon Age. Nonrenewable “Unconventional” Oil and Gas

When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems. Most of us believe (or want to believe)...

Yemen Says It Has Foiled al-Qaeda Plot

Rajeh Badi, press advisor to Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, announced on August 7 that government security forces thwarted a plot by al-Qaeda...

The Arab Turmoil

Seasons come and go, yet Arab countries are in ongoing turmoil. They called it an ‘Arab Spring’, but even if that ‘spring’ had ever...

Green Groups: If Courts Won't Protect Arctic from Oil Drilling, We Will

In just one incident, the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig Kulluk ran aground near Kodiak Island on Jan. 1, 2012. (Sara Francis / U.S....

Alberta’s Oil Sands Bring Jobs, Services and Despair

Activists taking part in the annual 'Healing Walk' through the tar sands site in Fort McMurray, Canada, call for the expansion of the energy...

US Govt In Turmoil Over ‘Big New Al-Qaeda Plot’ While Obama Funds Them

Anthony Gucciardi The mainstream media is reporting on the latest ‘big terror’ threat from al-Qaeda that is apparently the ‘most significant’ threat...

Explosion hits Yemeni oil pipeline

Smoke rises from an oil pipeline targeted by insurgents in Yemen. (File photo)A powerful explosion has hit Yemenâ„¢s main oil export pipeline linking eastern...

Iran to raise offshore oil output

Installations at offshore Doroud oil field in southern Iran. (file photo)Iran is to enhance oil recovery from its offshore fields by injecting 25 percent...

Turkey won’t cut Iran oil imports

Turkeyâ„¢s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says the country has no plans to cut its crude oil imports from Iran. Speaking to reporters on Thursday Yildiz...

‘India's MRPL to resume Iran oil imports’

Major Indian oil refinery Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) reportedly plans to resume crude oil imports from Iran because it has found no...

Canadian City of Fort McMurray Evicts Oil Sands Companies

by James Stafford The Canadian town of Fort McMurray, population 76,000, is the heart of Alberta’s oil sands largesse—but the town is bursting at its...

The Battle for Oil in Central Africa: Fighting Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance...

The Obama administration recently sent the highest ranking official to discuss its support for the Ugandan government’s involvement in various conflict zones in East...

US House to vote to cut Iran oil exports

The US House of Representative will vote on a tough Iran sanctions bill this week that seeks to put further restrictions on the Islamic...

McDonalds Tells Workers to Toil 70 Hours a Week, Use Ripoff Payroll Cards as...

(Photo: Messercn)Think the world needs an alternative to corporate media? Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and keep independent journalism strong. The...

‘Global demand for Saudi oil dropping’

Global demand for Saudi Arabian oil has been continuously dropping, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says. In open letters to high-ranking Saudi officials published on...

Blast halts Iraq oil flow to Turkey

A bomb attack on an oil pipeline near the northwestern Iraqi city of Mosul has halted the oil flow to Turkey, as violence continues...

Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying evidence in 2010 Gulf oil spill

Halliburton Energy Services has pleaded guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a disaster from which the Gulf of Mexico has yet to fully recover, the US Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Iran to launch largest floating oil terminal

The Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC) says it will launch the Persian Gulfâ„¢s largest floating oil storage terminal in the southern Iranian province of...

California launches ‘Toilet-to-tap’ water purification program

A sewage treatment plant will soon serve as Santa Clara County’s newest source of water: pre-treated wastewater will soon be used for electrical fountains,...

India oil imports from Iran up 21%

Recent data shows Indiaâ„¢s crude oil imports from Iran have increased by 21.1 percent in June 2013 compared to a year earlier despite the...

Egyptian Turmoil Brings Greater Suffering in Gaza

It unfortunately has become a truism that when Egypt sneezes, Gaza catches a cold. Fearful of the “terrorist elements” automatically associated with Hamas, the...

The Biggest Oil Discovery In 50 Years?

In a virtually uninhabitable section of South Australia, a discovery has been made which could rock the world. Some are calling it the biggest...

Syrians must refine oil manually

A man works at a makeshift oil refinery site in Aleppoâ„¢s countryside, Syria (file photo).Syrians living in areas controlled by foreign-sponsored militants have to...

Why Big Oil is Shifting Away from the Gulf of Mexico

Daniel J. GraeberOilPrice.comJuly 22, 2013 Photo by kris krüg, via Wikimedia CommonsA BP official who led...

Oil pipeline blast in Mexico — 7 injured

A firefighter walks away from the burning pipeline ignited by an explosion on July 21, 2013 near Tonanitla, Mexico.Seven people have been injured in...

Iraq foils attempted attacks on prisons

An Iraqi soldier closes the door of a cell in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.Iraq says its security forces foiled attempts by armed men...

'Egyptians must converge to foil West'

The supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gather during a demonstration at Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City, Cairo, July 7, 2013.An Iranian...

Essential Oils Proven to Treat 'Incurable' Ringworm Infections

Ask any veterinarian: Ringworm is one of those infections considered to have no conventional cure. When cats are infected, they may be cleaned and...

Eight great ways to enjoy coconut and coconut oil

PF Louis Natural News July 19, 2013 The whole issue of saturated fat dangers is falling apart gradually, although there are still...

Iran, Iraq agree on joint gas, oil fields

Oil tankers dock at the Basra harbor south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. (File photo)The Iranian Oil Ministry says Tehran and Baghdad have agreed...

Nigeria to prosecute 500 over oil theft

Nigerian boatmen carry barrels of oil. (File photo)Nigeria will prosecute 500 people suspected of stealing oil from the countryâ„¢s underground pipelines, an official says. The...

‘US lacks clear policy on Egypt turmoil’

A political commentator has condemned the US approach to Egypt, stating that Washington has no clear and coherent policy towards the North African country's...

Argentineans slam oil deal with US firm

Activists at Argentinaâ„¢s state-owned YPF oil company headquarters to protest an energy deal between YPF and US oil giant Chevron in Buenos Aires, Argentina,...

CFR Analyst Calls for Elimination of Restrictions on U.S. Crude Oil Exports

Sounding more like a free-market economist than the thoroughly establishment analyst that he is, Blake Clayton, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)...

South Korea's Iran oil imports up 16%

A recent report shows that South Koreaâ„¢s crude oil imports from Iran increased 16 percent in June 2013 compared to the previous month despite...

China's People Power Foils Nuclear Plans

Protestors, who oppose the plans for a uranium-processing facility in Heshan, parade through a street in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, China on July 12, 2013....

California Hunger Strike Raises Issue of Force-Feeding on US Soil

A "feeding chair" in the Guantanamo medical wing where hunger-striking detainees are force fed. (Photo: Sgt. Brian Godette, Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment)More than...

Wastewater Laced with Toxic Chemicals from Oil and Gas Drilling Rigs for Consumption by...

Millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals from oil and gas drilling rigs are pumped for consumption by wildlife and livestock with...

Cocaine found in 9 UK Parl. toilets

Cocaine traced in 9 UK Parl. toilets including in no-public-access areasTraces of cocaine have been found in nine toilets of the British parliament, including...

India to pay for Iran oil in rupees

India will settle all oil trade including USD 1.53 billion in dues with Iran entirely in rupees after the US-engineered illegal sanctions against Tehran...

California Prison Hunger Strike Raises Issue of Force-Feeding on U.S. Soil

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/california_hunger_strike_raises_issue_of_force-feeding_on_us_soil_2013071/ Posted on Jul 14, 2013 ...

Michael Savage — Omega 3 Fish Oil Cancer Study Debunked

Infowars.comJuly 13, 2013 Savage debunks the recent study purporting that fish oil causes a 70% increase...

Quackity quack: Eight evil genius ways to fake a vitamin study (and scare consumers...

Mike AdamsNatural NewsJuly 12, 2013Quackity quack, the quacks are back, and this time...

‘Investors mustn’t miss out on Iran oil’

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi (R) attends an international conference in the German city of Frankfurt to discuss Å“energy security” on July 11, 2013.Iranian...

'Blood on the Tracks': CEO's History of Cost-Cutting Precedes Oil Train Inferno

<img alt="" border="0" class="image-full" src="/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/bukrhardt.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 304px;" title="Rail World Inc. President Edward Burkhardt speaks to the media as he tours Lac-Megantic, Quebec,...

Argentineans protest oil deal with US

Argentinean demonstrators have poured into the streets to protest against an agreement that allows a major US oil company to extract natural resources from...

‘Egypt turmoil benefits Zionists’

The Society of Qom Seminary Scholars has issued a statement expressing regret over the current situation in Egypt and noting that domestic conflicts in...

'Egypt turmoil benefits Zionists'

Supporters of ousted Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, protest as army soldiers stand guard in front of the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo....

Privatization's the Name of the Game for Accident-Prone Train Company Behind Lac-Mégantic Oil Disaster

Scene from the runaway train disaster that hit the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic. (Photo: The Canadian Press)As the head of the company behind the...

Middle East Continues to Boil

Middle East Continues to Boil by Stephen Lendman A previous article called it the curse of oil and gas. Independent countries are targeted. Washington's war on...

Middle East Continues to Boil

Middle East Continues to Boil by Stephen Lendman A previous article called it the curse of oil and gas. Independent countries are targeted. Washington's war on...

Oil Train Explosion: Tragic Reminder of High Cost of Fossil Fuel Dependency

Firefighters continue to put out flames on the scene of the derailment of a train carrying crude, "fracked" oil from the Bakken oil fields....

Scores Missing after Oil-Laden Train Explosion Rocks Small Town

A train car continues to burn hours after the crude-fueled explosion rocked the small Quebec town.(Photo: Mathieu Belanger/ Reuters)A massive explosion followed the derailment...

‘Israel can now siphon Lebanon's oil’

Lebanese caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil says Israel has discovered a new offshore gas field near his countryâ„¢s territorial waters which allows Tel Aviv...

Oil rises, underpinned by Egypt concerns, U.S. data

Jeanine PreziosoReutersJuly 5, 2013 Brent crude oil prices were trading above $107 per barrel for the...

Oil rises, underpinned by Egypt concerns, U.S. data

Jeanine PreziosoReutersJuly 5, 2013 Brent crude oil prices were trading above $107 per barrel for the...

Iran oil industry unfazed by sanctions

Iran oil, gas industry unaffected by US-led sanctions: Oil min.File photo shows an offshore oil facility in southern Iran.Iran oil minister says development of...

A Warming Climate Will Alter the Soil That Feeds Us

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_warming_climate_will_alter_the_soil_that_feeds_us_20130704/ Posted on Jul 4, 2013 ...

Oil price spike could hurt stocks, economy

Adam Shell and Kim HjelmgaardUSA TodayJuly 4, 2013 The price of crude oil traded above $102...

Turmoil Rocks Egypt: Morsi is Out

Events are fast moving. Russia Today‘s live Cairo video shows huge Tahir Square crowds. They’re nonviolent. They’re expectant. The mood’s electric. Egyptian troops control key...

EU Anger Boils Over NSA Spying Revelations

<img alt="" border="0" class="image-full" src="/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/image.jpeg" style="width: 540px; height: 303px;" title="French President Francois Hollande speaks to the media during a press conference at an EU...

EU Anger Boils Over NSA Spying Revelations

<img alt="" border="0" class="image-full" src="/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/image.jpeg" style="width: 540px; height: 303px;" title="French President Francois Hollande speaks to the media during a press conference at an EU...

India MRPL to resume Iran oil imports

File photo shows an Iranian supertanker.Major Indian oil refiner, Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), is preparing to resume crude imports from the Islamic...

'Iran to deliver oil tanker to Venezuela'

A senior Iranian official says the first Aframax tanker ship Iran has built for the Venezuelan national oil company, PDVSA, is complete and will...

Michael Savage Covers Russian Forces on US Soil

Related: Russian Forces to Provide “Security” At US Events Infowars.comJuly 2, 2013 FEMA signs deal with Russian Emergency...

Iran's non-oil exports hit $9.7bn in 1Q

File photo shows a cargo ship belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).Iran has exported over $9 billion of non-oil goods...

UK lobby group raps Commons toilet bid

A British lobby group has condemned the UK parliamentâ„¢s bid to spend up to £100,000 on refurbishing two toilets used by members of the...

Oil tanker blaze kills 31 in Uganda

Ugandan police inspect a mangled car in Uganda capital Kampala, after a car crashed into a moving gas tanker sparking a fire that killed...

Lords toilet work costs taxpayer £100k

House of Lords toilet refurbishment may cost UK taxpayer £100,000.Refurbishing two toilets used by peers and VIP guests at the Palace of Westminster may...

S Sudan VP to discuss Sudan oil issue

Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, the first vice president of the independent Republic of South Sudan.(File photo)South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar has arrived in...

Foreign Boots on American Soil: Russia To Share Military “Security Experts” With United States...

Rumors have circulated for years about the possibility of foreign troops being deployed on U.S. soil in the event...

'Bound for Gory': Climate Activists Arrested in Maine for Blocking 'Dirty Oil' Train

Members from 350 Maine, who blocked the railroad crossing at Lawrence Avenue in Fairfield Thursday night, to protest the transport of fracked oil. ...

Iran oil min. in Russia for GECF meeting

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi has arrived in Moscow to take part in the ministerial meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in...

'Bound for Gory': Climate Activists Arrested in Maine for Blocking 'Dirty Oil' Train

Members from 350 Maine, who blocked the railroad crossing at Lawrence Avenue in Fairfield Thursday night, to protest the transport of fracked oil. ...

Labour Union in Colombia Battles Canadian Oil Company: Pacific Rubiales is Linked to...

In May 2012, the third edition of my report Profiting from Repression: Canadian Investment in and Trade with Colombia was published and released by...

Kabul foiled plot against Afghans: Karzai

Kabul has foiled a foreign plot against Afghans that was hatched by the opening of the Taliban's political office in Qatar, Afghan President Hamid...

Japan's oil imports from Iran double

A recent report shows that Japan’s May crude oil imports from Iran more than doubled compared to the corresponding period last year. This article...

Tribesmen attack oil pipeline in Yemen

Smoke rises from an oil pipeline attacked in Yemen. (File photo)Yemeni tribesmen have launched an attack on a pipeline, interrupting the flow of oil...

Tribesmen attack oil pipeline in Yemen

Yemeni tribesmen have launched an attack on an oil pipeline in the Sarwah area of Marib Province, east of the capital, Sana'a. This article...

S Sudan moves closer to new oil pipeline

File photo shows soldiers guarding an oil production facility in South Sudan on January 29, 2012.Presidents of Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda have agreed to...

Marc Rich, the Oil Trader Clinton Pardoned on His Last Day, Dead at 78

In announcing the death of 78-year-old international oil trader Marc Rich (shown), commentators around the world nearly ran out of descriptors, calling him “friend,” “pioneer,”...

Marc Rich, the Oil Trader Clinton Pardoned on His Last Day, Dead at 78

In announcing the death of 78-year-old international oil trader Marc Rich (shown), commentators around the world nearly ran out of descriptors, calling him “friend,” “pioneer,”...

‘High voter turnout foiled enemy plots’

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei addresses a group of Judiciary officials in Tehran on June 26, 2013.Leader of the Islamic...

Turmoil on Financial Markets: Share Selloff Points to New Economic Crisis

The renewed turmoil on global financial markets, which saw major falls on Asian markets and a one percent downturn on Wall Street yesterday, underscores...

Iran inaugurates oil refinery projects

This file photo shows installations at Lavan Oil Refinery, southern Iran.Iranâ„¢s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has inaugurated over a dozen fuel production projects at Lavan...

Oil Industry Must Pay for Its Waste

<img src="http://truth-out.org/images/2013_June_Images/2013.06.24.DT.Main.jpg" alt="Air pollution. (Photo: via Shutterstock )" width="308" height="432" />Air pollution. (Photo via Shutterstock )Tomorrow, President Obama will deliver a speech...

The Spoils of War: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade

Author’s Note In the course of the last three years, there has been a surge in Afghan opium production. The Vienna based UN Office on...

Pipeline spills 5k liters oil in Canada

A pipeline in Canada has leaked more than 5,000 liters of oil in the province of Alberta, close to where most First Nations residents...

Menses Pain and Excessive Bleeding Treated with Essential Oil Massage

Maternity and gynecology researchers have determined that abdominal massage with essential herbal oils will decrease pain and excessive bleeding in difficult menstruation. Managing a painful...

‘No cyberattack targeted Iran Oil Ministry’

Iranian energy official Ahmad Tavalaei has rejected reports about a cyberattack shutting down the Oil Ministryâ„¢s websites. The head of the Communications and Information...

Iran oil exports to China up 50% in May

Iran’s crude oil exports to its top customer, China, have seen nearly a 50-percent increase in May from April on a daily basis, customs...

Russia, China to ink major oil deal

Russiaâ„¢s President Vladimir Putin (R) exchanges documents with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 22, 2013.Russian state-controlled oil company...

The Keystone XL Pipeline: Enriching the Oil Giants, Threats to Water and the Environment...

by Kevin Grandia Keystone is an “export pipeline” that would transport toxic tar sands from Alberta down to a tax-free zone in Texas and out to foreign...

Toxic Smog Shrouds Singapore in Darkness as Palm-Oil Giants Dodge Responsibility

(Photo: Skylan Kao/Creative Commons/For Decades, Smog Has Filled the Singapore Skyline)As a hazardous pollution fog blankets Singapore, environmentalists charge that the nation's vast palm-oil...

Doubt Surrounds Claims of NSA Success in Foiling Terrorist Attacks

NSA Director General Keith Alexander (shown), testifying along with officials from the Justice Department in a rare public oversight hearing by the House Intelligence...

Doubt Surrounds Claims of NSA Success in Foiling Terrorist Attacks

NSA Director General Keith Alexander (shown), testifying along with officials from the Justice Department in a rare public oversight hearing by the House Intelligence...

Ron Paul: “50 foiled Terror Plots” Claim Is False

Former Congressman says NSA hearings were a total sham Steve Watson Infowars.com June 19, 2013 Former Congressman Ron Paul accused the NSA of...

Urgent action alert: EPA about to raise allowable concentrations of glyphosate on food crops,...

Mike AdamsNatural NewsJune 19, 2013 This is an urgent action alert from Natural News and the...

‘No Iran-Russia reverse oil swap deal’

No negotiations over Iran reverse oil swap with Russia: Oil min. officialAn Iranian Oil Ministry official has dismissed media reports that Tehran is engaged...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlers' Out of Europe

Greeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he arrived at the UK's Parliament Thursday morning was a barrage of environmental activists who came to...

20 Examples Of How America Is Rapidly Going Down The Toilet

Michael SnyderEconomic CollapseJune 14, 2013 Deep corruption is eating away at every level of American society...

The Human Equivalent of the $640 Toilet Seat

Neoliberal economics has been an ideological mantra of Republicans and Democrats alike since President Jimmy Carter began the wave of privatization and deregulation that...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

Rosneft to partner with Norway's Statoil in Arctic

Statoil of Norway, and Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft are partnering in a venture after being awarded a 20 percent stake in Norway’s continental...

NSA Surveillance Played Little Role in Foiling Terror Plots, Experts Say

Lawyers and intelligence experts with direct knowledge of two intercepted terrorist plots that the Obama administration says confirm the value of the NSA's vast...

Russian oil price jumps 20% in a month as Rosneft cuts domestic sales

The spot price of oil jumped by a fifth in Russia between May and June, as Rosneft reportedly redirected part of domestic...

Russia ranked world leader in shale oil reserves

Russian shale oil reserves are estimated at 75 billion barrels, which puts the country on top of the global standings, followed by the US...

NSA Surveillance Played Little Role in Foiling Terror Plots, Experts Say

Lawyers and intelligence experts with direct knowledge of two intercepted terrorist plots that the Obama administration says confirm the value of the NSA's vast...

Catastrophic Oil Spill Threat to Canadian River Basin

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/catastrophic_oil_spill_threat_to_canadian_river_basin_20130612/ Posted on Jun 12, 2013 ...

Britain’s GCHQ embroiled in spy scandal

ËœUK govt. used U.S. spying data to monitor Britonsâ„¢British eavesdropping agency (GCHQ) has become embroiled in the U.S. Prism programme scandal, in which spying...

‘Riyadh, Doha in rivalry over Yemen’s oil’

File photo shows an oil facility in Yemen.A political analyst says Yemen is emerging as an arena in the energy-driven confrontation between Saudi Arabia...

First Time Since 1995: U.S. Produces More Oil Than It Imports

When Brantley Hargrove noted in the Dallas Observer on Thursday that, during the last week in May, the United States produced more oil than it...

Sudan halts oil transfers from S. Sudan

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaks to people in north Khartoum on June 8, 2013. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has ordered the stoppage...

First Time Since 1995: U.S. Produces More Oil Than It Imports

When Brantley Hargrove noted in the Dallas Observer on Thursday that, during the last week in May, the United States produced more oil than it...

Would-Be World’s Biggest Oil Merger Agreed at Bilderberg

Steve WatsonInfowars.comJune 6, 2013 Despite countless examples that prove the contrary, detractors, debunkers...

'US firms bear brunt of oil bans on Iran'

An Iranian lawmaker has downplayed the impact of US-led sanctions on Iranâ„¢s oil exports, saying the bans harm US companies rather than the Islamic...

Western Collapse: From Economic Turmoil to Cultural Chaos

From economic turmoil to social dissolution and cultural chaos, it can no longer be denied that the once-opulent West is on the brink of...

Russian oil production increased to 10.48mn barrels per day

Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, increased its crude oil output by 0.1 percent to 10.48 million barrels (44.3 million metric tonnes) per...

Russian oil production increased to 10.48mn barrels per day

Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, increased its crude oil output by 0.1 percent to 10.48 million barrels (44.3 million metric tonnes) per...

Russian oil production increased to 10.48mn barrels per day

Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, increased its crude oil output by 0.1 percent to 10.48 million barrels (44.3 million metric tonnes) per...

Syria foils infiltration by militants

The Syrian army has driven back a group of militants who were attempting to infiltrate Syria through the Lebanese border. The militants tried to enter...

UK Lord embroiled in lobbying scandal

Lord Laird (L), an Ulster Unionist peer and former MP in seen here in a news programme with the BBC.A member of the UKâ„¢s...

‘OPEC decides to maintain oil output’

The headquarters the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Vienna, Austria (file photo)Iran's oil minister says the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has...

Syria forces foil infiltration attempt

Syrian Army forces have driven back a group of militants who were attempting to enter the country from the Lebanese border. The gunmen tried to...

Russia creates $9bn bonanza for oil rig manufacturers

Russia is to replace its old soviet made rigs with modern ones able to drill in shale oil deposits, which could be a boom...

Obama’s Personal Responsibility Snake Oil

United States president Barack Obama appears to never pass up an opportunity when addressing Afrikan Americans to shift the responsibility for their success to...

Russia creates $9bn bonanza for oil rig manufacturers

Russia is to replace its old soviet made rigs with modern ones able to drill in shale oil deposits, which could be a boom...

Afghan forces foil major attack on Kabul

Afghan soldiers arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul on May 24, 2013.Afghan armed forces have foiled a potentially devastating attack on...

Gaza Held Hostage to Egypt’s Turmoil

Air of uncertainty is engulfing most matters related to Egypt. Since the Egyptian revolt started over two years ago, the country remains hostage to...

Syria hits trucks smuggling oil to Turkey

Syrian soldiers celebrate in the al-Midan area in Damascus after clearing the zone of militants fighting against the government of President Bahsar al-Assad. (file...

Syria hits trucks smuggling oil to Turkey

Syrian troops have destroyed several trucks smuggling crude oil from eastern oil fields to Turkey, state media say. This article originally appeared on: Press...

Undercover FBI agent ‘lured’ Tunisian student allegedly linked to foiled terror plot

Allan Woodsthestar.comMay 27, 2013 Supporters of Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian man allegedly linked to a foiled...

Undercover FBI agent ‘lured’ Tunisian student allegedly linked to foiled terror plot

Allan Woodsthestar.comMay 27, 2013 Supporters of Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian man allegedly linked to a foiled...

Going to Jail to Save the Wild from Oil and Gas Drilling

May 26, 2013  | ...

Rand Paul: Obama Embroiled In ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’ Of Scandals

“Here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal”Steve WatsonInfowars.comMay 24, 2013 Senator...

Yemen main oil pipeline sabotaged

Smoke rises from an oil pipeline targeted by insurgents in Yemen. (File photo)Unknown attackers have blown up Yemenâ„¢s main oil export pipeline in the...

Iraq vows action on Kurdistan oil sales

File photo shows tanker trucks waiting to be loaded at Taq Taq oil field in the Iraqi city of Erbil.The Iraqi government has vowed...

S Korea increases Iranian oil imports

South Koreaâ„¢s crude imports from Iran have increased 7.5 percent in April compared to a month ago despite the US-led unilateral embargoes against the...

‘High turnout to foil US, Israel plots’

Iranian Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani says massive voter turnout in the forthcoming presidential election will foil plots hatched by the United States and...

Syria Army foils car bomb attacks

Syrians stand near damaged cars at the site after a car bomb attack in Bab Touma neighborhood in Damascus. (File Photo)The Syrian Army has...

Syria army foils car bomb attacks

The Syrian army has destroyed two cars, loaded with 1,300 kilograms of explosives, in the Harasta neighborhood in the Syrian capital, Damascus, during an...

Train accident spills 91k liters of oil

A Canadian train derailed and spilled 91,000 liters of oil in the province of Saskatchewan on May 21, 2013. A Canadian freight train has...

Iran VP urges oil, gas ties with Pakistan

Iranâ„¢s First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi says the Islamic Republic is ready to increase the level of bilateral cooperation with Pakistan in all fields,...

Russian forces foil attack on Moscow

File photo shows policemen in the Russian capital, Moscow.Russian security forces have foiled a terror attack on the countryâ„¢s capital, Moscow, killing two of...

‘Russian forces foil attack on Moscow’

Russian security forces have foiled a terror attack on the country’s capital Moscow, killing two of the plotters and arresting another, officials say. This...

European Union Directly Funds Al Qaeda Looting of Syrian oil

According to a report yesterday in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the European Union (EU) is directly funding US-backed Sunni Islamist terrorist groups fighting Syrian President...

‘Regional states must foil powers’ plots’

Secretary of Iranâ„¢s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili (R) meets with Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office Sheikh-ul-Islam Haji Allahshukur Pashazadeh in Tehran...

Austerity on the side: EU hits restaurateurs with olive oil law

As if European Union bureaucrats don’t have enough on their hands trying to extinguish financial fires raging across the broken continent, they’ve now decided...

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing takes over the oilfields once belonging to Assad

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing is helping to finance its activities by selling the product of oilfields...

‘Iran to increase oil products swap’

File photo shows an LNG tanker. Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) says Iran plans to increase the volume...

Turkey not halting Iran oil imports

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has not yet made any decision on cutting oil imports from Iran, despite US pressure to...

Turkey not halting Iran oil imports

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has not yet made any decision on cutting oil imports from Iran, despite US pressure to...

Ten Years After Invasion, Iraq Continues to Import Oil Products

Former Iraqi oil minister Issam al-Jalabi says that although Iraq is an oil-rich country, it still imports petroleum products from abroad to meet its needs...

BP Warns About Inflated Oil Spill Claims

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Environmental Crisis in the Amazon due to Oil Contamination. Peru Declares State of Emergency

The Peruvian government has declared an environmental state of emergency after finding elevated levels of lead, barium, and chromium in the Pastaza River in the Amazon jungle, reports the Associated Press. Indigenous peoples in the area have been complaining for decades of widespread contamination from oil drilling, but this is the first time the Peruvian government has acknowledged their concerns. Currently 84 percent of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by potential oil blocs, leading to conflict with indigenous people and environmental degradation.

The Peruvian Environment Minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said that Pluspetrol, which has operated the oil bloc in question—1 AB—since 2001, would be liable for cleaning up the pollution. But the minister also noted that Occidental Petroleum, which operated the bloc from 1971-2001, had not been environmentally responsible in its operations either.

River in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
River in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
The news comes shortly after Peru set forth its first environmental standards for soil pollution, which the government claims is what led to the announcement of the state of emergency. For the first time Peruvian experts had standards by which to measure contamination in the Pastaza River bed.

Pluspetrol now has 90 days to clean up the Pastaza River and mitigate risk to the local Quichua and Ashuar peoples.

Peru has 659,937 square kilometers of its Amazon rainforest (84 percent) under actual and potential oil and gas development, an area larger than Afghanistan. Not surprisingly—given the scale—many of the oil blocs cover indigenous lands and protected areas. Such concessions not only imperil indigenous groups and the forest itself, but also many tribes that live in voluntary isolation who are especially susceptible to disease.

Meanwhile oil companies are complaining that Peru’s regulatory process is stifling the development of the country’s oil fields. Dow Jones Newswires reports that 16 oil companies have come together to lobby the Peruvian government on increasing oil production.

In 2009 conflict between oil development and indigenous rights erupted in violence. A clash between protestors and government police lead to the deaths of 23 police officers and at 10 indigenous protestors. Indigenous groups have since accused the government police of hiding protesters bodies in order to hide the scale of the violence.

Siberian man spends 3 years digging 60-meter tunnel to steal oil from pipeline

Published time: March 27, 2013 13:21
Screenshot taken from a video posted at the official website of the Novosibirsk regional police department.

A Siberian man siphoned off 30 tons of oil from a local pipeline after spending three years digging a 60-meter tunnel. His luck did not last long, though, as he was soon caught by police; he now claims the act was born purely out of curiosity.

The detained man confessed to having spent three years, from 2010 to 2013, digging the tunnel to connect a plot of land he owned with a pipeline belonging to a subsidiary of the Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, according to the Novosibirsk regional police department. 

The man eventually made a tie-in and connected a hose to the pipeline, which carries oil between two Siberian cities, Omsk and Irkutsk. 

Screenshot taken from a video posted at the official website of the Novosibirsk regional police department.

“Over a period of three months the man stole around 30 tons of oil. The damage done to the oil transporting company is 500,000 rubles ($16,200),” criminal investigator Yulia Khabibullina said.

Police have not identified the suspect, but said he is a 52-year-old businessman working in the freight traffic industry. In a video testimony posted on the police department’s website, the man said he was motivated by scientific curiosity rather than monetary gain.

“My goal was just to see if I can do it or not. I once came across one man’s thesis. I read it and that was my starting point,” he said.

He described his digging routine, which kept him busy for three years: He progressed further underground every night after work, bit by bit, and also during the daytime on weekends.

“The process was hard. The soil was really troublesome. It appeared to be hard to dig. Water was constantly leaking. There was a lot of fuss,” the man said, adding that his clothes were dirty all the time because of the digging.

The man also complained of having had to do the job alone, and that he had no one to advise him.

The suspect believes he was simply unlucky, as “it all took place too fast,” leaving him no time to steal enough crude to compensate for the expenses involved in his caper.   

The businessman’s bad luck has now been compounded by charges of large-scale theft leveled against him.

‘Senate’s Big Oil Benefactors’ Slammed for Keystone XL Vote

As U.S. senators prepare to vote on the Senate Budget Resolution Friday the lawmakers will also be considering a slew of amendments proposed for the bill by a group of Big Oil friendly senators, including a bid for slipshod approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Kxl Pipeline (Photo: 350.org via Flickr / Creative Commons License) Senator John Hoeven has slipped into the budget resolution a proposal for an amendment that would claim Congress has the authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline over the Executive branch.

The amendment would be largely symbolic, as it could not effectively supersede the powers of the State Department to approve or deny the pipeline, but would serve to garner support for a similar stand alone bill that was pushed by a group of oil friendly senators last week.

"I think it will get him (Obama) to approve [the pipeline] and if he doesn't, I think it will help us to get it done congressionally," Hoeven said.

"If the measure passes, it would be symbolic because the budget is a plan and will not be voted into law," Reuters reports.

However, as Danielle Droitsch at the Natural Resources Defense Council writes Friday, such an amendment, while nonbinding, "could support the approval and construction of the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."

She continues:

It does not approve the pipeline, nor does it direct the president to approve it. It is instead an attempt to rattle the cage and call for a vote count on behalf of Big Oil. Senators should stand with the American people, not Big Oil, and vote against this amendment.

"Senate about to vote on KXL: nonbinding, but a good scoreboard of who's taking orders from Big Oil."

“If you understand climate science, there’s no way you can support this pipeline,” said Jason Kowalski, policy director for 350.org. “We know that this pipeline is a boondoggle—it will spill, most of the oil is for export, and it will make climate change worse. Anyone who tells you the opposite isn’t being straight with you or doesn’t know the facts.”

Droitsch continues:

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline threatens American homes, farms, and ranches with tar sands oil spills.  And it threatens all of us by driving the expansion of the giant tar sands reserve and worsening climate change. It would raise oil prices. It would provide few jobs and derail continued growth in clean energy jobs. And it would funnel money to foreign oil corporations. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is all risk and no reward and has no place on the budget resolution.

Also Friday, Oil Change International released telling new statistics on the motives behind the Big Oil senators.

According to the group, the 10 senators co-sponsoring the pro-Keystone XL pipeline amendment (Hoeven Amendment 494) have on average taken $807,517 from the fossil fuel industry.

Those numbers, based on data from DirtyEnergyMoney.org, work out to be 254% more money than the average senator not sponsoring the amendment and total over $8 million dollars.

David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International, issued the following statement:

This puts to rest any delusions we might have that the Keystone XL pipeline is about anything but money for the fossil fuel industry and their allies in Congress. [...]

If approved, this non-binding amendment will not change anything in the process of the State Department’s review of the Keystone XL proposal. And it certainly will not change the fact that this pipeline risks our communities and our climate just to ship toxic oil through our country for export around the globe. [...]

The only thing this amendment would actually do is show which Senators would rather follow Big Oil’s money rather than listen to the people who elected them.

And Bill McKibben of 350.org tweeted Friday afternoon:

The Hoeven amendment is co-sponsored by mix of Democrat and Republican Senators: Hoeven (R-ND), Baucus (D-MT), Cornyn (R-TX), Manchin (D-WV), Roberts (R-KS), Heitkamp (D-ND), Barrasso (R-WY), Landrieu (D-LA), Murkowski (R-AK), and Begich (D-AK).

Click here for a slew of other amendments on the docket today, which resemble "a cut-and-paste from Big Polluters’ wish list."

_______________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

China oil imports from Iran rise 81%

File photo shows Iran Najm supertanker.

A recent report shows that China's February crude oil imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran have increased by more than eighty percent compared to the corresponding period last year.

China, Iran's top crude oil customer, bought nearly 2.0 million tons of Iranian crude in February, equivalent to about 521,330 barrels per day (bpd). The figure rose 81 percent from 288,576 bpd a year earlier, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, China's biggest refiner announced that it will process more Iranian crude oil at its second-largest plant in 2013 than in 2012.

"We have followed the government's requirement to maximize our import volume from Iran (this year)," Yu Xizhi, president of Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Corp, said.

"After all, China and Iran enjoy good relations," he noted.

At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union (EU) imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers agreed on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

MP/MA

Iran marks oil nationalization day

Iran has marked the 62nd anniversary of the nationalization of its oil industry as a momentous breakthrough in the nation's movement for independence, Press TV reports.

On March 20, 1961, members of the Iranian parliament passed a bill introduced by then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq on the nationalization of the oil industry.

Mosaddeq garnered the support of his nationalist party and religious groups led by prominent cleric, Ayatollah Abolqasem Kashani, for the initiative.

Experts say before nationalization of Iran’s oil industry, the British government, which controlled Iran's oil industry through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, reaped higher profits from Iran's oil resources than the Iranian government.

Some scholars believe that nationalization of Iran’s oil industry was the main reason behind the 1953 joint CIA-MI6-sponsored coup d'état, codenamed Operation Ajax, which overthrew Mosaddeq.

ASH/SS

World Bank Must End Support fo Honduran Palm Oil Company Implicated in Dozens of...

WASHINGTON - March 19 - Today several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) condemned a statement by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, IFC [1] which defends the record of a Honduran palm oil company, Grupo Dinant, implicated in dozens of murders as well as other human rights abuses. The IFC statement explicitly admits to supporting training for the company’s armed security guards.

The NGOs are : Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Urgewald, Rights Action, Rettet den Regenwald/Rainforest Rescue, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Biofuelwatch.

A World Bank Ombudsman [2] is currently investigating an IFC loan of $30 million for Grupo Dinant which was approved in 2009, at least half of which has already been disbursed.

This month, an Open Letter by 17 NGOs [3] and an international petition signed by over 63,000 people [4] have protested the loan and called on the World Bank to immediately cease their support for Grupo Dinant.

Since 2009, international human rights bodies have documented dozens of murders of peasant activists and their supporters in connection with land conflicts involving Grupo Dinant, the company’s armed security guards and Honduran military and police.

The evidence includes a fact-finding mission report by international human rights organisations in March 2011, a hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in October 2011, an international public hearing on human rights in the region in May 2012 [5] and a report about human rights abuses attributed to military forces in the region by Rights Action, published this month [6].

The recent Rights Action report confirms that at least 88 members and supporters of peasant movements have been murdered in targeted killings in the Bajo Aguan Valley over the past three years. It documents the direct involvement of Grupo Dinant’s armed security forces in the violence against peasant movements. Contrary to the World Bank’s claims that the violence ended in 2012, two peasant activists were found tortured and murdered in February 2013. [7]

Annie Bird from Rights Action says: “It is a serious indictment of World Bank’s role in Honduras’s land conflicts that their International Finance Corporation admits to directly engaging with the training of Grupo Dinant’s paramilitary ‘security guards’. It is not clear whether this engagement is a response to concerns over human rights abuses but retraining paramilitaries implicated in killings is never an acceptable response. The World Bank must cease such engagement and stop supporting Grupo Dinant at once.”

Almuth Ernsting from Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch adds: “The World Bank’s claims that killings are being investigated by Honduran courts with full cooperation from Grupo Dinant contradict the findings of human rights missions which show a state of total impunity surrounding those murders. Such a state of impunity has been confirmed by the UN Working Group on Mercenaries. Not only must the World Bank cancel its loan but there needs to be a full investigation into their role in human rights abuses in Honduras.”

In 2011, the German development bank, DEG, cancelled a loan for Grupo Dinant due to the company’s involvement in serious human rights abuses.Yet the World Bank continues to back the company and dismiss all independent evidence, as their recent statement shows.

Jeff Conant from Friends of the Earth US adds: “The World Bank’s statement on Bajo Aguan reveals the extent of their complicity with a palm oil company implicated in some of the most serious human rights abuses in Central America today. Years after a damning audit of their palm oil funding and a supposed overhaul of their policies, the World Bank is legitimising the use of armed paramilitaries in land conflicts against peasants who are trying to reclaim their own land, dismissing a vast volume of evidence from independent fact finding missions.”

The NGOs demand cancellation of the World Bank’s loan to Grupo Dinant and an immediate full and independent investigation into the World Bank’s involvement with Grupo Dinant, which must go beyond the remit of the current Ombudsman investigation.

Afghan forces foil attack on Kabul

Afghan security forces rush to the site of a battle in the capital, Kabul. (File photo)

Afghan security officials say they have defused a massive truck bomb in the capital city of Kabul, the biggest of its kind discovered in the war-torn country.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Friday said it found nearly eight tons of explosives, wired and ready for detonation, hidden in cement bags in a truck.

"This truck bomb could have destroyed an area around 1.5 km (in radius). Now can you imagine that what kind of catastrophe this would be?" NDS spokesman Shafiqullah Tahiri told a news conference.

Five suspected bombers were killed and two others arrested during a pre-dawn raid by security forces on Wednesday.

The NDS said the attack was planned by the Haqqani network and the Taliban leadership.

Security forces also arrested four Taliban militants who had planned to attack Shindand military airport in the western Herat Province on Friday.

They also seized four missiles aimed at the airfield.

Violence in Afghanistan has been on the rise in recent years, despite the prolonged presence of foreign forces in the war-torn country since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

The rising number of civilian casualties has promoted President Hamid Karzai to order US special forces to leave the eastern province of Wardak.

Karzai’s last week remarks accusing the United States of colluding with the Taliban and the US denial of the comments marks the strain in Kabul-Washington relations.

MRS/JR

Tilling the Soil with Pesticides

The ministry of agriculture had organised a conference on Doubling Food Production from February 1-3. The “eminent speakers” invited were not members of International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) or top Indian scientists. Rather they were spin masters of biotechnology industry who claimed to have founded the anti-GMO movement and openly promoted it. The old paradigm of food and agriculture is clearly broken.

On April 15, 2008, the IAASTD report findings, carried out by 400 scientists over six years, were released. The report has noted that business as usual is no longer an option. Neither the Green Revolution nor the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can guarantee food security. We need a new paradigm of working with the laws of nature and ecological sustainability. Why is our agriculture minister Sharad Pawar defending a dead paradigm and promoting PR men of biotech giants? When the fact is that the emerging scientific paradigm of ecological agriculture has shown that we can double food production while protecting the planet, human health and farmers’ livelihoods.

The old paradigm of agriculture has its roots in war. An industry that had grown by making explosives and chemicals for the war remodelled itself as the agro-chemical industry when these wars ended. Factories that manufactured explosives started making synthetic fertilisers and gradually the use of war chemicals as pesticides and herbicides began. The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy is a stark reminder that pesticides kill. Pesticides in agriculture continue to kill farmers. One of Navdanya’s reports, “Poisons in our Food” released in 2012, shows that a link between epidemics like cancer and the use of pesticides in agriculture exist. A daily “cancer train” leaves Punjab, the land of the Green Revolution in India, with cancer victims. In the last five years, 33,000 people have died of cancer in Punjab.

The chemical push changed the paradigm of agriculture. Instead of working with ecological processes and taking the wellbeing and health of the entire agro-ecosystem with its diverse species into account, agriculture was reduced to an external input system adapted to chemicals. Instead of small farms producing diversity, agriculture became focused on large chemical monoculture farms producing monocultures for a handful of commodities. Correspondingly, the human diet shifted from 8,500 plant species to about eight globally traded commodities, which were nutritionally empty but loaded with toxics.

The scientific paradigm was also transformed. Instead of adopting a holistic approach, agriculture became compartmentalised into fragmented disciplines based on a reductionist and mechanistic paradigm.

Just as the gross domestic product fails to measure the real economy, the health of nature and society, similarly the category of “yield” fails to measure real costs and real output of farming systems.

On October 25, 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations released its second report on The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It observed that the so called high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of the Green Revolution should, in fact, be called high response varieties as they are bred for responding to chemicals and are not “high yielding”. The narrow measure of “yield” propelled agriculture into deepening monocultures thereby displacing diversity and eroding natural and social capital.

According to the FAO report, industrial monoculture agriculture has pushed more than 75 per cent agro-biodiversity to extinction. Seventy-five per cent bees have been killed because of toxic pesticides. Scientist Einstein had once cautioned, “when the last bee disappears, humans will disappear”. Seventy-five per cent of the water on the planet is polluted owing to intensive irrigation of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. The nitrates in water from industrial farms are creating “dead zones” in the oceans. Chemical industrial farming has led to 75 per cent land and soil degradation.

Forty per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for climate change, come from the use of fossil fuels and chemical-intensive industrial globalised system of agriculture. While this ecological destruction of the natural capital is justified in terms of “feeding the people”, the problem of hunger has grown. One billion people are permanently hungry. Another two billion suffer from food-related ailments like malnutrition. And this hunger and malnutrition is designed into a food system driven by profits rather than health and sustainability.

When the focus is on the production of commodities for trade instead of food for nourishment, it leads to hunger and malnutrition. Only 10 per cent of corn and soya grown is used as food. The rest is used as animal feed and biofuel. Commodities do not feed people, food does. A high cost external input system is artificially kept afloat with $400 billion as subsidies. That is more than a $1 billion a day. The “cheap” commodities have a very high cost financially, ecologically and socially. Industrial, chemical agriculture displaces productive rural families. It is like creating a debt. Debt and mortgages are the main reason for the disappearance of the family farm. In extreme cases, as in the cotton belt of India, debt created by purchase of high cost seed and chemical inputs, has pushed more than 127,000 farmers to suicide in a little over a decade. Getting out of this suicide economy has become crucial for the wellbeing of farmers and all life on earth.

A scientifically and ecologically robust paradigm of agriculture is emerging in the form of agro-ecology and organic farming that rejuvenates the natural capital (soil, biodiversity and water) on which sustainable food security depends. Chemical agriculture treats soil as inert and an empty container for chemical fertilisers. The new paradigm recognises the soil as living where billions of soil organisms create soil fertility. Chemical agriculture destroys biodiversity.

Ecological agriculture conserves and rejuvenates biodiversity. Chemical agriculture depletes and pollutes water. Organic farming conserves water by increasing the water-holding capacity of soils through recycling organic matter.

Biodiversity and soils rich in organic matter are the best strategy for climate resilience and climate adaptation. While lowering the ecological footprint, organic agriculture increases output when measured through diversity and multifunctional benefits instead of the reductionist category of “yield”.

Another research by Navdanya released in 2011, “Health per Acre”, on biodiverse organic systems has shown that ecological systems produce higher biodiverse outputs and higher incomes for rural families. Our report shows that when measured in terms of nutrition per acre, ecological systems produce more food. We can double food production ecologically. Ecological systems of agriculture are based on care, compassion and cooperation. They enhance ecological resilience, diversity, sustainable livelihoods and health.

The new paradigm of agriculture creates living economies and living cultures that increase the well-being of all.

© 2013 The Asian Age

Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

Cleanliness is next to godliness: Finnish toilet-roll company draws religious ire

Published time: March 05, 2013 01:04

AFP Photo / Getty Images

A Finnish hygiene company that “inadvertently” printed quotes from the Bible on its toilet rolls has drawn outrage from several clerics who found the creative idea unwitty and disrespectful.

The company, Metsa Tissue, had to apologize for the mishap and remove lines from the Gospel of Matthew and First Corinthians it accidentally placed on its toilet paper. The manufacturer says that it did not mean to insult anyone. On the contrary, it tried to spread “love and joy.”

Back in spring the firm, which produces the Lambi brand, asked its customers via Facebook to send short texts about love to their page on the popular networking service.

The company then picked best lines – including Jesus’ “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” - and published them on toilet tissues sold in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” was also approved as suitable to make TP users happy before being flushed away.

The new product appeared to be quite a success in Scandinavia, writes Vart Land newspaper’s website.

The manufacturers only realized their mistake when feedback from some displeased ‘readers’ followed. 

“People like to read small, happy messages while sitting on the toilet,” Christina von Trampe, a spokeswoman for Metsa Tissue told Reuters. She underlined that the “vast majority of the feedback” was positive adding that the company’s intention was to “spread love and joy, not religious messages.”

However, Laila Riksaasen Dahl, the Bishop of Tunsberg in protestant Norway, did not appreciate the idea of placing lines from the Holy book on toilet tissues.

"This is bad taste and shows a lack of respect," she told Vart Land. 

Metsa Tissue’s von Trampe apologized to believers and noted that had they known where quotes come from, they would not have printed them.

Meanwhile, some say that the very possibility of the God’s words being placed on toilet rolls is a positive sign: it shows that the society is free. And to a large extent that is thanks to Christianity, believes Morten Thomsen Højsgaard, the head of the Danish Bible Society. He underlined though that freedom “must be used with responsibility.”


The Geopolitics of Oil and Natural Gas: Russia is Back to Stay in the...

russianwarshipnovocherkassk

By Felix Imonti

Russia is back. President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power. He is making his stand in Syria.

The Soviet Union acquired the Tartus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it. With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tartus was too insignificant to be developed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.

The Russian return to the Middle East brought them first to where the Soviet Union had its closest ties. Libya had been a major buyer of arms and many of the military officers had studied in the Soviet Union. Russia was no longer a global power, but it could be used by the Libyans as a counter force to block domination by the United States and Europeans.

When Gaddafi fell, Tartus became Russia’s only presence in the region. That and the discovery of vast gas deposits just offshore have transformed the once insignificant port into a strategic necessity.

Earlier at the United Nations, Russia had failed to realize that Security Council Resolution 1973 that was to implement a new policy of “responsibility to protect” cloaked a hidden agenda. It was to be turned from a no-fly zone into a free-fire zone for NATO. That strategic blunder of not vetoing the resolution led to the destruction of Gaddafi’s regime and cost Russia construction contracts and its investments in Libyan gas and oil to the tune of 10 billion dollars.

That was one more in a series of humiliating defeats; and something that Putin will not allow to happen again while he is president. Since his time as an officer in the KGB, he has seen the Soviet Empire lose half of its population, a quarter of its land mass, and most of its global influence. He has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.”

In spite of all of the pressure from Washington and elsewhere to have him persuade Bashar Al-Assad to relinquish power, Putin is staying loyal to the isolated regime. He is calculating that Russia can afford to lose among the Arabs what little prestige that it has remaining and gain a major political and economic advantage in Southern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean.

What Russia lost through the anti-Al-Assad alliance was the possibility to control the natural gas market across Europe and the means to shape events on the continent. In July 2011, Iran, Iraq, and Syria agreed to build a gas pipeline from the South Pars gas field in Iran to Lebanon and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The pipeline that would have been managed by Gazprom would have carried 110 million cubic meters of gas. About a quarter of the gas would be consumed by the transit countries, leaving seventy or so million cubic meters to be sold to Europe.

Violence in Iraq and the Syrian civil war has ended any hope that the pipeline will be built, but not all hope is lost. One possibility is for Al-Assad to withdraw to the traditional Aliwite coastal enclave to begin the partitioning of Syria into three or more separate zones, Aliwite, Kurdish, and Sunni. Al-Assad’s grandfather in 1936 had asked the French administrators of the Syrian mandate to create a separate Alawite territory in order to avoid just this type of ethnic violence.

What the French would not do circumstance may force the grandson to accept as his only choice to survive. His one hundred thousand heavily armed troops would be able to defend the enclave.

The four or five million Alawites, Christians, and Druze would have agricultural land, water, a deep water port and an international airport. Very importantly, they would have the still undeveloped natural gas offshore fields that extend from Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. The Aliwite Republic could be energy self-sufficient and even an exporter. Of course, Russia’s Gazprom in which Putin has a vital interest would get a privileged position in the development of the resource.

In an last effort to bring the nearly two year long civil war to an end, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syrian president Bashar al-Assad at the end of December to start talks with the Syrian opposition in line with the agreements for a cease fire that was reached in Geneva on 30 June. The Russians have also extended the invitation to the Syrian opposition National Coalition head, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib. The National Coalition refuses to negotiate with Al-Assad and Al-Assad will not relinquish power voluntarily.

The hardened positions of both sides leaves little hope for a negotiated settlement; and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has made it clear that only by an agreement among the Syrians will Russia accept the removal of Al-Assad. Neither do they see a settlement through a battlefield victory which leaves only a partitioning that will allow the civil war to just wind down as all sides are exhausted.

The Russians are troubled by what they see as a growing trend among the Western Powers to remove disapproved administrations in other sovereign countries and a program to isolate Russia. They saw the U.S involvement in the Ukraine and Georgia. There was the separation of Kosovo from Serbia over Russian objections. There was the extending of NATO to the Baltic States after pledging not to expand the organization to Russia’s frontier.

Again, Russia is seeing Washington’s hand in Syria in the conflict with Iran. The United States is directing military operations in Syria with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia at a control center in Adana about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to the American air base in Incirlik. The Program by President Obama to have the CIA acquire heavy weapons at a facility in Benghazi to be sent to Turkey and onward to Syria is the newest challenge that Putin cannot allow to go unanswered. It was the involvement of Ambassador Chris Stevens in the arms trade that may have contributed to his murder; and the Russians are not hesitating to remind the United States and Europeans that their dealings with the various Moslem extremists is a very dangerous game.

The Russians are backing their determination to block another regime change by positioning and manning an advanced air defense system in what is becoming the Middle East casino. Putin is betting that NATO will not risk in Syria the cost that an air operation similar to what was employed over Libya will impose. Just in case Russia’s determination is disregarded and Putin’s bluff is called, Surface to surface Iskander missiles have been positioned along the Jordanian and Turkish frontiers. They are aimed at a base in Jordan operated by the United States to train rebels and at Patriot Missile sites and other military facilities in Turkey.

Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in Latakia, and the port facilities at Tartus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.

When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.

And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.

Threats to the Environment and the XL Keystone Project: “It’s Not About Oil Pipelines,...

 The same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was promising a “fair and transparent” review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast, the CEO of the company building that pipeline, TransCanada’s Russ Girling, was reported as saying that his company’s “Plan A” was finishing a different pipeline that would take the same tar sands oil to Canada’s east coast.

TransCanada’s plan to establish a pipeline to the Atlantic coast has received little attention since CEO Girling’s February 6 interview on Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg’s later report:

“Canada’s second-largest pipeline company proposes to ship oil 3,000 miles (4,825 kilometers) to the Atlantic Coast, allowing producers to send it by tanker to the Gulf, Girling said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

“While he expects U.S. passage of Keystone ‘very soon,’ the East Coast route makes sense in any event because of rising production from Alberta, Girling said.” 

TransCanada presently has about $22 billion worth of pipeline projects underway, of which Keystone XL represents about a third of the total.  Asked if an east coast pipeline was a fallback plan in case Keystone is blocked, Girling said:  “It’s not a Plan B, it’s a Plan A, and it will go if the market supports it, along with Keystone….  Once you get on tidewater, you can get anywhere, and you don’t need a presidential permit to bring oil into the Gulf Coast.”

That the head of a pipeline company is more interested in getting tar sands oil to market than he is in what it may cause after that is perhaps not surprising.  Girling isn’t a climate change denier, he just sees change taking decades during which TransCanada will try to make the transition to non-fossil fuels, which is why the company built three large wind farms in 2011.

Keystone Needs Presidential Permission to Proceed

But there may not be decades, there may be no time at all, according to a long National Journal story on February 7, with the headline:  “The Scary Truth About How Much Climate Change Is Costing You” – costing you now, the sub-head emphasizes:  “While policymakers fiddle, the threat of economic harm posed by rising sea levels, devastating storms, and drought is growing every day.”

On January 22, Greenpeace released a 60-page report called “Point of No Return,” dealing with “massive climate threats we must avoid,” while giving little reason to think we will avoid them:

“The world is quickly reaching a Point of No Return for preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

“With total disregard for this unfolding global disaster, the fossil fuel industry is planning 14 massive coal, oil and gas projects that would produce as much new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020 as the entire US, and delay action on climate change for more than a decade.

“Continuing on the current course will make it difficult – if not impossible – to prevent the widespread and catastrophic impacts of climate change….”           

In the United States, pressure is building for the President (or the Secretary of State) to deny a permit to Keystone.  That demand is at the heart of plans for “the largest climate rally in history” on the Mall in Washington February 17.  Sponsored by the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip-Hop Caucus, the promoters of the event assert that 

“The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.”

Making much the same argument with much greater detail on February 10 on TomDispatch.com, Hampshire College professor Michael Klare analyzes three possible pipeline routes that would enable Alberta tar sands oil to reach world markets.  The first is Keystone, first proposed in 2008, which is still at least two years from being operational.  The other two go in opposite directions — west, where resistance is already high, and east, where a substantial amount of pipeline is already in place.  Klare analyzes each alternative in detail, arguing that:    

“… the only pipeline now under development that would significantly expand Albertan tar-sands exports is Keystone XL. It is vitally important to the tar-sands producers because it offers the sole short-term – or possibly even long-term – option for the export and sale of the crude output now coming on line at dozens of projects being developed across northern Alberta.

“Without it, these projects will languish and Albertan production will have to be sold at a deep discount – at, that is, a per-barrel price that could fall below production costs, making further investment in tar sands unattractive. In January, Canadian tar-sands oil was already selling for $30-$40 less than West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the standard U.S. blend.” 

But Klare does not consider the different route to the Atlantic proposed by Girling, a route that could be entirely within Canada, ending at St. John, New Brunswick.             

The shadow play aspects of the public posturing around the Keystone pipeline make it difficult to focus on the underlying reality that matters most: whether exploiting tar sands, not only in Canada, but in the U.S. and other countries, really will mean “game over for the climate,” as NASA scientist James Hansen has said.  The heart of his argument, as it appeared in the New York Times, was simple:


“GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent 
interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves ‘regardless of what we do.’

“ If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.”

The game, in other words, is not about pipelines, it’s about tar sands oil.  And even though cancellation of the Keystone pipeline would not be a game-changer, such cancellation would be a powerful symbol that leaves open the possibility of changing the game.  And it would be a signal that there is at least some political will to change the game.

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper has been pushing hard for the Keystone pipeline, lobbying the Obama administration and responding to unsympathetic media reports in the U.S.   At the same time, Canadian resistance to pipelines in both the east and west has grown increasingly intense, especially among the more than 630 First Nations governments of Canada’s native people whose land would be directly affected.

Media Coverage Omits More Than It Says 

When Sec. Kerry promises a “fair and transparent” review of Keystone and media from ABC News to the Washington Post to Huffington Post report the story with the same wire service account from AP, there’s not a lot of reporting going on.  Sec. Kerry’s comments are value free and allow for a possible approval, especially in the context of Kerry’s “great respect” for the needs of Canada’s energy industry.

What AP and those who carried the report left out included Sec. Kerry’s significant oil industry holdings which create an obvious conflict of interest, although as someone who was the richest U.S. Senator till recently (net worth about $240 million, compared to Jay Rockefeller’s $98 million), his oil holdings may not represent that great a conflict.  And Sec. Kerry was “a steadfast proponent of taking action on climate during his tenure as a senator,” according to Reuters.

The widely distributed AP report all but dismisses “climate change,” using the phrase only in the context of suggesting that the pipeline would be “a source of much-needed jobs,” which it’s not, and “a step toward North American energy independence,” which it’s not.

Sec. Kerry’s remarks fit a context in which the State Dept. carries out its evaluation and approves the pipeline, giving cover for Pres. Obama to approve it, too, since the evaluation was “fair and transparent,” or will be reliably reported that way.  But Sec. Kerry also mentioned “accountability” in passing, without saying (or being asked) just what that could possibly mean.  If James Hansen is right, and the climate is destroyed by tar sands oil, how will anyone in the future be able to hold a long-dead multi-millionaire accountable for his lost seriousness?

Alternatively, with the boom of “light sweet oil” coming out of Texas and North Dakota, oil that is much preferable to the “heavy sour crude” from Alberta, the president may have a practical way of sidestepping Keystone approval as no longer very useful to the United States (if it ever really was).

Disruptions Continue Along Keystone Southern Leg 

The active protest and political theatre front in recent months has been along the TransCanada Keystone Gulf Coat section in Texas and Oklahoma, where early in the morning of February 11 in Schoolton, OK, an Oklahoman youth pastor, Stefan Warner, who chained himself to construction machinery high above a local waterway, the North Canadian River.

“I grew up in a town where the North Canadian River runs right through, and we can’t let the North Canadian become another Kalamazoo,” Warner said, referring to the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  Another giant pipeline company, Enbridge Energy, had one of its pipelines rupture there in July 2010, dumping about 900,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude oil into the river, where the clean-up is now in its third year.

Warner acted with other members of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, a new group that recently organized to resist the Keystone pipeline.  The Great Plains website reported the end of the action this way:

8:00AM: Direct Support for Stefan has been arrested without warning and placed in police car.  Six other people on site being detained currently.

9:00AM: All Six people detained now arrested. Seven police vehicles on scene. Workers have lowered side-boom in disregard of Stefan’s safety and OSHA regulations, Stefan still locked to machinery but lying painfully face-down on the lowered arm. Police obscuring Stefan from view and not allowing anyone within photographing distance.

9:15AM: Another individual arrested. This person was not initially detained but was prevented from accessing her vehicle since 8am. Stefan still holding strong….

1:00PM Earlier today, Stefan was extracted. To our knowledge, Stefan sustained no serious injuries and seems to be alright. 

This action is similar to protests mounted over the past five months by the Tar Sands Blockade, who started their resistance in September 2012 when they set up a tree house blockade across the right of way along which TransCanada was constructing its pipeline.  TranCanada skipped a section of construction to avoid the tree houses and also took members of the group to court.  That action that was settled January 25, when 19 people, also acting on behalf of 6 Jan and John Does and three organizations, agreed to a permanent injunction against interfering with Keystone people, property, or progress.           

Defeating Keystone – A Victory With No Winners? 

It would certainly look like a victory for environmentalists if the President denied Keystone a permit, and a low political cost would allow the political class to bask in undeserved credit – a symbolic triumph.  And, at worst, an opportunity to enjoy the illusion that something meaningful was accomplished.

But the problem of tar sands oil would be fundamentally unchanged.  It would remain an underexploited asset that Canadians are eager to tap.  The demand from Asian markets would continue to grow.  Canada would continue to face the irrationality of importing half the oil it uses while exporting two thirds of the oil it produces.  The pipeline struggle would become an all-Canada affair.

A lively and slightly hysterical imagination might envision an American war with Canada, not so much to keep tar sands oil in the ground to save the climate, but to keep the Canadians from selling it to the Chinese.  More likely, the United States reverts to its traditionally torpid contemplation of planetary threat, the climate continues to warm, and soon Alberta can have a pipeline to the north, since the Arctic Ocean is open year-round.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. 

‘Make BP Pay!’: Gulf Residents Decry Oil Giant as ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Trial Opens

Gulf coast residents gathered outside a federal court in New Orleans on Monday as the trial against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster—arguably the worst environmental calamity in US history—began inside.

Gulf coast residents protest outside the building where the BP trial began in New Orleans on Monday. (AFP) BP, the U.S. government, and private plaintiffs failed to reach a last-minute settlement before the trial on Sunday, leading US district judge Carl Barbier to warn in opening proceedings that it would likely be a "lengthy trial".

Federal prosecutors opened with a "scathing attack" on the oil giant, Agence France-Presse reports, arguing that BP is guilty of deliberately cutting corners on normal safety procedures on the Deepwater rig—amounting to "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct".

A "gross negligence" ruling could mean fines closer to $17 billion for the company. However, BP's fines could be as low as $5 billion if prosecutors fail to make the case.

Meanwhile, environmental protesters camped outside the courthouse, urging the court to compel payment of the maximum penalties possible under the law.

"This is not just about something that's going to take decades to clean up," said Chris Canfield, vice president of Gulf of Mexico conservation and restoration for the National Audubon Society. "This is about making sure that bad actors are punished for a series of decisions that put profits ahead of people and the environment."

The civil trial at the federal courthouse in New Orleans is designed to determine the direct cause for the disaster, and how much oil was spilled. The court's authority to define the amount of spilled oil the company is responsible for will be used to calculate the size of environmental fines.

BP has previously settled thousands of lawsuits linked to the disaster out of court, including a $4.5 billion plea deal with the US government in which BP pleaded guilty to criminal charges and a $7.8 billion settlement with people and businesses affected by the spill.

Critics have said that BP's settlements pale in comparison to the decades of environmental and economic damage the company has caused.

"The Gulf Coast is still reeling, and people are still waiting for BP to be held accountable for the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history," said Canfield. "The people of the Gulf Coast don't feel justice has been served. There is much work to be done."

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Obama Officials Refuse to Say If They Believe They Can Assassinate American Citizens on...

The Justice Department   Obama's power to extrajudicially execute US citizens was leaked three weeks ago. Since then, the administration - including the president himself and his nominee to lead the CIA,  John Brennan - has been repeatedly asked whether this authority extends to US soil, i.e., whether the president has the right to execute US citizens on US soil without charges. In each instance, they have refused to answer.

Brennan has been asked the question several times as part of his confirmation process. Each time, he simply pretends that the question has not been asked, opting instead to address a completely different issue. Here's the latest example from the  written exchange he had with Senators after his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee; after referencing the DOJ "white paper", the Committee raised the question with Brennan in the most straightforward way possible:

Obviously, that the US has not and does not intend to engage in such acts is entirely non-responsive to the question that was asked: whether they believe they have the authority to do so. To the extent any answer was provided, it came in Brennan's next answer. He was asked:

Could you describe the geographical limits on the Administration's conduct drone strikes?"

Brennan's answer was that, in essence, there are no geographic limits to this power: "we do not view our authority to use military force against al-Qa'ida and associated forces as being limited to 'hot' battlefields like Afghanistan." He then quoted Attorney General Eric Holder as saying: "neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan" (see Brennan's full answer  here).

Revealingly, this same question was posed to Obama not by a journalist or a progressive but by  a conservative activist, who asked if drone strikes could be used on US soil and "what will you do to create a legal framework to make American citizens within the United States believe know that drone strikes cannot be used against American citizens?" Obama replied that there "has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil" - which, obviously, doesn't remotely answer the question of whether he believes he has the legal power to do so. He added that "the rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States", but these "rules" are simply political choices the administration has made which can be changed at any time, not legal constraints. The question - do you as president believe you have the legal authority to execute US citizens on US soil on the grounds of suspicions of Terrorism if you choose to do so? - was one that Obama, like Brennan, simply did not answer.

As always, it's really worth pausing to remind ourselves of how truly radical and just plainly unbelievable this all is. What's more extraordinary: that the US Senate is repeatedly asking the Obama White House whether the president has the power to secretly order US citizens on US soil executed without charges or due process, or whether the president and his administration refuse to answer? That this is the "controversy" surrounding the confirmation of the CIA director - and it's a very muted controversy at that - shows just how extreme the degradation of US political culture is.

As a result of all of this, GOP Senator Rand Paul on Thursday  sent a letter to Brennan vowing to filibuster his confirmation unless and until the White House answers this question. Noting the  numerous times this question was  previously posed to Brennan and Obama without getting an answer, Paul again wrote:

Rosneft gets access to $100bn gas and oil field in Alaska

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) at the signing ceremony of cooperation documents between OJSC Rosneft Oil Company and ExxonMobil Development Campaign company. Right - President of Rosneft Igor Sechin. Left - ExxonMobil Exploration Company President Stephen Greenlee.(RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) at the signing ceremony of cooperation documents between OJSC Rosneft Oil Company and ExxonMobil Development Campaign company. Right - President of Rosneft Igor Sechin. Left - ExxonMobil Exploration Company President Stephen Greenlee.(RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Rosneft has reached an agreement with Exxon Mobil to acquiring a 25% stake in the Point Thompson Alaska oil and natural gas field. The deal is part of the larger cooperation on exploring the Russian Arctic shelf.

­The head of Rosneft Igor Sechin and the President of ExxonMobil Stephen Greenlee have signed an agreement on joint exploration of new sectors of the Russian Arctic shelf, expanding the 2011 strategic partnership agreement.

Under the deal Rosneft gets access to one of the largest fields in Alaska which is currently operated by ExxonMobil. Participation in the project will let Rosneft develop up to a quarter of the proved gas resources of the Alaska North Slope, as well as get the latest technology for exploiting liquid gas fields in bad weather conditions, according to Igor Sechin.

In return, ExxonMobil gets the rights to explore 600,000 acres of land in the Russian Arctic, including the Severo-Karsky block in the Kara Sea, three blocks in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Laptev Sea, all of which are “among the most promising and least explored offshore blocks in the world.

According to Sechin, the agreements “take the unprecedented Rosneft and ExxonMobil partnership to a completely new level.” “The acreage in the Russian Arctic subject to geological exploration and subsequent development increased nearly six-fold,” Sechin added.

Point Thompson is a large oil and gas field in the Northern part of Alaska, which was discovered in the 1960s, which has been recently cleared for development after a legal battle between ExxonMobil and the State of Alaska. In 2012 the State, Exxon Mobil and other Point Thomson stakeholders agreed that natural gas production can begin by spring 2016, or the State could begin to take back leases. 

The field is estimated to hold a potential 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas which is a quarter of the known reserves in the region, and also hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. If the estimates are correct the area could be worth more than $100 billion.

‘Turkish shells land on Syrian soil’

Turkish artillery shells have landed on the Syrian soil after a shell fired from the Arab country landed near a town in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, Turkish state media say.

MKA/HSN

Putin calls for transparency on Russian oil reserves data

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the details of the country’s oil reserves declassified.

“I think we should consider lifting the security label from the reserves balance data,” Putin said at a meeting of the Commission for development of fuel and energy complex on Wednesday.

­Reserves balance is a government document, which has data on volumes, quality, extent of research and production development of deposits, which is kept by the Russian Geological Fund and is based on data from mineral developers.

The secrecy is an “obvious anachronism”, as foreign companies are operating in the national fuel and energy industry, and Russian companies go through an international audit, Putin said.

We do not classify anything here, we do not hide, and it is not possible, it only does damage,” Putin elaborated.

The President believes Russia needs new classification system of its oil and gas resources, which would be close to international standards. Foreign investors are interested in Russian deposits, but differences in the systems of evaluation will vary the country’s resource potential.

This directly affects investment attractiveness of Russian companies,” Putin said. The country’s natural resources should have a justified, understandable and objective price, he added.

Russia has the most gas reserves in the world, followed by Venezuela and the Persian Gulf states by oil reserves. The country is the second biggest oil extractor after Saudi Arabia and second biggest gas extractor after the United States.

Russia’s oil reserves grew by 681 million tons and natural gas reserves were up 816 billion cubic meters in 2012, Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy said in January. In the period between 2005 and 2011, the total oil and condensate produced was 3.2 billion tons, while reserves grew by 4.7 billion; total gas production was 4.2 trillion cubic meters with reserves growing by 5.4 trillion cubic meters.

Oil Pops, Apple Drops, And Stocks Take Out More Stops

Another low volume, low range, low average trade size day in stocks as recent high (stops) were run again with FX markets ruling the day in terms of volatility. The G-7's initial statement fell on deaf ears , after Draghi's early comments (on a higher...

Iran again invites Russia to join its oil and gas projects

View of phases 3 and 4 of the South Pars gas field in the southern Iranian port of Assaluyeh (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

View of phases 3 and 4 of the South Pars gas field in the southern Iranian port of Assaluyeh (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

Iran has offered Russian companies another chance to develop a number of its domestic oil and gas fields. The offer comes after several previous joint projects collapsed due to various reasons.

­Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met as part of the Russian-Iranian Commission on Trade and Economic cooperation on Tuesday. Iran agreed to make changes to legislation to enable Russian companies to get a stake in mineral extraction projects in Iran. The Iranian Foreign Minister hailed the expansion of ties between Iran and Russia.

In November 2009 Russian Gazprom and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), signed a memorandum of understanding, to cooperate on the development of the Azar and Changuleh oil fields, with estimated reserves of 2 billion barrels.

However in August 2011 Iran changed its mind and rebuffed Russian participation after deciding to operate the fields using a local consortiums. Iran said Russia had failed to meet its obligations and was therefore breaking the agreement. 

Another Russian company Lukoil suffered a $63 million loss when it was forced to withdraw from a project in the Aran oilfield. A joint venture between Lukoil and Norway's Statoil had hoped to develop part of the Anaran block that extends across the Iraqi border. The two companies wrote off the project because of the international sanctions imposed on the Iranian banking system.

Iran is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters and its economy is heavily dependent on energy revenues. Crude reserves in Iran are estimated at 155 billion barrels while gas reserves stand at 33.1 trillion cubic meters. International sanctions have hampered Tehran’s ability to deliver its crude to market and receive payments for its exports. Iran's oil production has fallen dramatically from an average 3.7 million barrels a day in 2011 to 2.7 million, according to the latest Platts survey of OPEC production for November 2012.

Foreign Minister Salehi said at the meeting in Moscow that Iran's current crude production is at around 4 million barrels a day.

The GOP Plan to Flush Your State’s Economy Down the Toilet

Texas Gov. Rick Perry listens to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speak at Schebler Manufacturing in Bettendorf, Iowa, Nov. 15, 2011. (Photo: Daniel Acker / The New York Times)Texas Gov. Rick Perry listens to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback speak at Schebler Manufacturing in Bettendorf, Iowa, Nov. 15, 2011. (Photo: Daniel Acker / The New York Times)The new “red-state model” seeks to turn your state into Mississippi.

The GOP has plans for a comeback. But it may cost you a lot. The idea is to capitalize on recent Republican state takeovers to conduct an austerity experiment known as the new “red-state model” and prove that faulty policies can be turned into gold.

There will be smoke. There will be mirrors. And there will be a lot of ordinary people suffering needlessly in the wake of this ideological train wreck.

We already have a red-state model, and it’s called Mississippi. Or Texas. Or any number of states characterized by low public investment, worker abuse, environmental degradation, educational backwardness, high rates of unwanted pregnancy, poor health, and so on.

Now the GOP is determined to bring that horrible model to the rest of America.

In Kansas, the Wall Street Journal reports that Governor Sam Brownback is aiming to up his profile “by turning Kansas into what he calls Exhibit A for how sharp cuts in taxes and government spending can generate jobs, wean residents off public aid and spur economic growth.” In remarks quoted in the same article, Brownback announced that "My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, 'See, we've got a different way, and it works.’ "

Brownback’s economic inspiration is Reagan-era supply-side economist Arthur Laffer and the folks at Americans for Prosperity, the conservative outfit backed by the deep coffers of the Koch brothers.

This new austerity talk focused on “fiscal innovations” is emboldening Republicans in other states that have been gerrymandered into submission to the GOP, including Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and alas, my home state of North Carolina.

Republications have been eyeing the Tar Heel state with interest due to its recent swing status in presidential elections. The state was also the target of a gerrymandering strategy that worked out wonderfully for the Republicans, but not so well for democracy. Sam Wang, the founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, wrote recently in the New York Times about how Republican redistricting thwarted Democratic voters:

"Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you....I have developed approaches to detect such shenanigans by looking only at election returns. To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats. In November, five states failed to clear even this low bar: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. ... In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans — a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur."

The lesson of North Carolina tells you that the GOP red-state model is based, first and foremost, on efforts to flagrantly disregard the will of the people. NC’s discount-store mogul Art Pope, a longtime GOP donor and champion of free-market fundamentalism, has been appointed state budget director by the new Republican governor, Pat McCrory. In an incredible display of money buying political influence, Pope has gone well beyond his donor-counterparts in other states. Instead of just funding the politicians he wants, he has gone for direct rule by occupying government himself. Tax repeal is the centerpiece of his announced plans, but his hatred of public investment means he has much more than that in store for one of the most progressive states in the South. Pope is said to be more powerful than the governor, giving rise to the term “Pope administration” to describe the new political reality.

GOP pols are vying to out-do each other in extreme red-state programming. NC state senator Bob Rucho is pushing a plan to eliminate the state's income taxes altogether. Such plans go hand-in-hand with calls for increasing the sales tax. Because low-income people pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes, abolishing income taxes and raising sales taxes shoves tax burdens onto them. Obviously, the Republicans will not give up on their passionate desire to cut taxes on the wealthy and stick it to the poor and the middle class.

Pope’s ideological opposition to public investment is ringing alarm bells. North Carolina, a state where progressives have fought conservative forces tooth and nail to achieve an enviable university system and a reputation for high-tech and research, is now in danger of being thrown into a period of regressive darkness. University of North Carolina sociologist Andrew Perrin put it this way: “Public investment is part of what has set North Carolina apart from our neighbors in the South.”

But Pope is hell-bent on turning North Carolina into Mississippi.

The GOP economic plans not only subvert common sense and the lessons of history (being played out right now in places like the U.K., where austerity has failed dramatically), they also flip a giant middle finger at the American voter. Unable to win support at the national level for their foolhardy economic programs, Republicans have turned their attention to state-level action because that’s where gerrymandering really works wonders.

Red-state model proponents claim that their maneuvers will spark economic growth. But that was basically what George W. Bush had in mind when he supported a similar program for cutting taxes on the rich. That didn’t work out so well, and increased the very deficits Republicans decry.

But here’s the really scary part. Slashing taxes, squeezing workers and throwing out environmental protections can indeed lure businesses to states where they won’t have to pay their fair share and can get away with all sorts of abuse. If a state like North Carolina promotes such policies, businesses from nearby states like Virginia may indeed move their operations down the road. Unless you believe in the “Confidence Fairy,” as Paul Krugman calls the naïve GOP faith that making everybody poorer is the way to become rich, then you know that what results is simply trade diversion, not genuine growth. In other words, one state’s gain is another state’s loss. The result is a headlong race-to-the-bottom whereby the states losing business will be pressured to slash their taxes and burden their workers and ordinary citizens, too. Nobody wins in that game -- except the 1 percent.

The blue-state model, evident in high-income states like Massachusetts, has long been associated with high levels of state investments in education, transportation and other public goods. And guess what? It's also associated with economic strength. The red-state model, on the other hand, is linked to backwardness, second-rate educational systems and economic weakness.

What the GOP wants to do is create an image-problem for blue states where taxes have been raised to balance budgets and continue vital services and jobs by crying “Look, Ma! No taxes!” in the states where they’ve taken control.

They’ll soon be able to say, “Look, Ma! No economy.”

Lowest Volume And Range Day In Months As Stocks Shrug Despite JPY Dump And...

Today was simply dreadful. S&P 500 futures saw their narrowest day-session range in six months and lowest day-session volume of the year. No matter what was tried today - vol compression, EURJPY (carry) ramps, Oil stop-run - equities did not respo...

The GOP Plan to Flush Your State’s Economy Down the Toilet

The new “red-state model” seeks to turn your state into Mississippi.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

February 11, 2013  |  

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The GOP has plans for a comeback. But it may cost you a lot. The idea is to capitalize on recent Republican state takeovers to conduct an austerity experiment known as the new “red-state model” and prove that faulty policies can be turned into gold.

There will be smoke. There will be mirrors. And there will be a lot of ordinary people suffering needlessly in the wake of this ideological train wreck.

We already have a red-state model, and it’s called Mississippi. Or Texas. Or any number of states characterized by low public investment, worker abuse, environmental degradation, educational backwardness, high rates of unwanted pregnancy, poor health, and so on.

Now the GOP is determined to bring that horrible model to the rest of America.

In Kansas, the Wall Street Journal reports that Governor Sam Brownback is aiming to up his profile “by turning Kansas into what he calls Exhibit A for how sharp cuts in taxes and government spending can generate jobs, wean residents off public aid and spur economic growth.” In remarks quoted in the same article, Brownback announced that "My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, 'See, we've got a different way, and it works.’ "

Brownback’s economic inspiration is Reagan-era supply-side economist Arthur Laffer and the folks at Americans for Prosperity, the conservative outfit backed by the deep coffers of the Koch brothers.

This new austerity talk focused on “fiscal innovations” is emboldening Republicans in other states that have been gerrymandered into submission to the GOP, including Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and alas, my home state of North Carolina.

Republications have been eyeing the Tar Heel state with interest due to its recent swing status in presidential elections. The state was also the target of a gerrymandering strategy that worked out wonderfully for the Republicans, but not so well for democracy. Sam Wang, the founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, wrote recently in the New York Times about how Republican redistricting thwarted Democratic voters:

"Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you....I have developed approaches to detect such shenanigans by looking only at election returns. To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats. In November, five states failed to clear even this low bar: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. ... In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans — a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur."

The lesson of North Carolina tells you that the GOP red-state model is based, first and foremost, on efforts to flagrantly disregard the will of the people. NC’s discount-store mogul Art Pope, a longtime GOP donor and champion of free-market fundamentalism, has been appointed state budget director by the new Republican governor, Pat McCrory. In an incredible display of money buying political influence, Pope has gone well beyond his donor-counterparts in other states. Instead of just funding the politicians he wants, he has gone for direct rule by occupying government himself. Tax repeal is the centerpiece of his announced plans, but his hatred of public investment means he has much more than that in store for one of the most progressive states in the South. Pope is said to be more powerful than the governor, giving rise to the term “Pope administration” to describe the new political reality.

Draft Arctic Oil Spill Agreement “Inadequate”

Washington - Environmentalists are warning that a meeting of environment ministers that took place Monday in Sweden has agreed on a weak and inadequate response plan in case of an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean.

According to Greenpeace, an environment watchdog, a leaked copy of the document suggests that the eight member states that make up a group dubbed the Arctic Council have failed to agree on the technical details necessary for dealing with a large-scale disaster, even while it opens the way for increased drilling and oil exploration in the Arctic.

“We are unimpressed by what we’ve seen from this totally inadequate document,” Ben Ayliffe, a Greenpeace campaigner based in Washington, told IPS. “It does nothing to prepare governments for dealing with disasters or for protecting the Arctic from disasters.”

According to the United Nations’ global climate office, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level on record in 2012. That process, which overwhelming scientific data attributes to human-induced climate change, has created a virtual gold rush to the Arctic.

Rising temperatures mean the vast Arctic Ocean, which used to be frozen over for much of the year, is now an open shipping lane for more than half the year, on average. This has resulted in a scramble to lay claim to Arctic territory, which is estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to contain 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered energy resources.

However, environmentalists are concerned that no mechanisms are in place to prevent or respond to an environmental disaster.

According to Richard Steiner, a biologist and expert on oil spills based in Alaska, this past summer, a record 46 merchant ships transited through what is known as the Northern Sea Route, a 10-fold increase from just two years ago. “There has been an extraordinary increase in shipping across the Arctic Ocean, mainly with very hazardous petroleum products on board,” Steiner told IPS.

He also warns that an increase in offshore oil and gas drilling potential in the Arctic demands robust laws. Yet, he says, the Arctic Council agreement has no technical performance standards, enforcement mechanisms or operational guidelines.

“They are charging forward with this Arctic offshore oil drilling development and shipping without the proper safeguards in place, and it’s really tragic,” Steiner said. “I’m afraid they are going to wait for a big spill disaster before putting the right systems in place.”

He added that this is what happened with the Exxon Valdez case, when an oil tanker ran aground in Alaska in 1989.

“I’m afraid this is what’s going to happen in the Arctic, too,” he continues. “Despite the lessons learned … very little has changed as far as prevention policy is concerned.”

No proven capacity

The Arctic Council, established in 1996, is made up of states with territory in the Arctic, and comprises Canada, Denmark (including Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The new oil spill treaty will be formally voted upon by members in May, and would become the second binding agreement reached by the Arctic Council since a search-and-rescue agreement was signed in 2011.

Yet Ayliffe says the document doesn’t adequately deal with the complex issues involved with a potential spill.

“It’s a nightmare scenario,” Ayliffe says. “The technical difficulties of responding to a disaster a mile beneath the ice make the kind of operation that BP had to do in the Gulf impossible in the Arctic.”

Despite earlier assurances by the Arctic Council that any agreement would include specific environmental protections, including oil spill recovery and prevention strategies, Ayliffe says the agreement “fails to outline any essential response equipment, methods for capping wells, or cleaning up oil-affected habitat and wildlife, relying instead on vague statements of steps Arctic nations should take within available resources.”

The document contains ambiguous language regarding oil spills, only asking countries to take “appropriate steps” to deal with a spill, without specifying clear demands or requirements. It also lacks guidelines relating to the liability of oil companies in case of a disaster or guidelines on how to adequately deal with a spill.

“No oil company has ever proven it can respond to an oil spill in ice, and the agreement offers nothing in regard to how a company would stop or clean up a Deepwater Horizon-style disaster,” Ayliffe said, referring to the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when nearly five million barrels of oil spewed from a blown oil well in the sea floor for nearly three months.

“We are hoping that, because of the outrage that has been caused by this document, before the May vote there will be time to fill some of the holes.”

Big Oil’s in Good Hands With Obama’s New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Sally-Jewell

On February 6, Obama chose Jewell as new Interior Secretary. More on her below.

She’ll replace Ken Salazar. He supported BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation. He ignored environmental risks. He approved BP’s exploration plan with no environmental analysis.

His negligence permitted Gulf of Mexico disaster. After BP’s rig exploded, he granted “categorical exemptions” to expand offshore drilling. He surpassed Bush administration policies.

He and Obama share culpability. They back dangerous nuclear expansion. They’re beholden to oil and gas interests. Drill, drill, drill is official policy. Lip service alone is paid to environmental concerns.

Salazar’s environmental record was deplorable. As junior Colorado senator, he opposed fuel efficiency. He supported unrestricted oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

He voted against Gulf of Mexico drilling protections. He fought them as Interior Secretary.

Center for Biological Diversity’s Kieran Suckling accused him of being “very closely tied to ranching and mining and very traditional old time, Western, extraction industries.”

He proved it throughout his tenure. Expect no change from Jewell. Suckling remains “guarded.” She’ll withhold judgment for later.

“America’s public lands and endangered species are in dire need of visionary leadership,” she said.

She hopes Jewell will reverse Salazar’s damage. It’s hard imagining how.

Her “challenge is whether she will value our wildlands and wildlife in the face of endless pressure by industry to drill for fossil fuels in areas within Interior’s jurisdiction.”

“Nature needs a true champion at this point in history.” Obama has other priorities. Jewell was chosen to serve them. Expect no positive changes on her watch.

Suckling’s colleague, Bill Snape, said he’s “not joining the (Jewell) love fest.”

“Our public lands are not a publicly-traded commodity on Wall Street.”

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit called on Obama to set aside one acre for conservation permanently for each one devoted to oil and gas development.

“So far under Obama,” he said, “industry has been winning the race as it obtains more and more land for oil and gas.”

“Over the past four years, the industry has leased more than 6 million acres, compared with only 2.6 million acres permanently protected. In the Obama era, land conservation” got short shrift.

Speaking in the White House State Dining Room, Obama announced Jewell’s appointment.

She’s Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) president and CEO. It sells outdoor gear and sporting goods. It does so through dozens of US retail outlets. Its sales approach $2 billion annually.

“Sally spent the majority of her career outside of Washington,” said Obama. She’s “an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future.”

Obama thanked Ken Salazar. He “cracked down on waste,” he said. He claimed he improved Interior’s management. He “ushered in a new era of conservation for our land, our water and our wildlife.”

He spent four years wrecking them. He gave industry free reign. Expect no change from Jewell. She was chosen to serve industry interests. She won’t disappoint.

She’ll be low key and soft spoken. She’ll conceal official policy. Whatever Big Oil wants it gets. Jewell’s their Washington representative.

She’ll oversea oil and gas production. She’ll give industry free reign. She’ll back Keystone XL Pipeline System construction. Word is Obama supports it. He hasn’t officially said so.

It’s a controversial 1,661-mile Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX pipeline. It’ll carry toxic tar sands oil from Western Canada to refineries on America’s Gulf coast. It’ll pass through environmentally sensitive areas in six states.

They include waterways and the Ogallala Aquifer. It’s one of the world’s largest. In America, it supplies about 30% of the nation’s irrigation ground water. It’s also used for human consumption.

Friends of the Earth says Keystone XL “will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil.”

Its route “could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health.”

It’ll double America’s dirty tar sands oil supply. Doing so will increase environmental toxicity exponentially.

No matter the stakes, Big Oil wants it. So do Republicans, many Democrats and Obama. Expect Jewell to support it. It’s part of her mandate at Interior. She won’t disappoint.

She was chosen not to. Her background shows why. It includes banking and Mobil Oil employment.

From 1978 – 1981, she performed oil field engineering services. From 1981 – 1992, she was a Ranier Bank/Security Pacific executive.

From 1992 – 1995, she was WestOne Bank president. From 1996 – 2000, she was Washington Mutual (WaMu) commercial banking group president. Before collapsing, it was the nation’s largest mortgage lender.

It was one of the biggest option-ARM mortgage issuers. They let borrowers make unreasonably low payments. Doing so increases indebtedness exponentially. It compromises the ability to repay.

WaMu was rife with fraud. Senate investigators discovered gross deception. Loan officers got bonuses for speedy subprime mortgage closures, overcharging, and levying stiff prepayment penalties.

Senior bank executives knew all about fraudulent practices. Nothing was done internally to stop them. Bottom line priorities came first.

High-risk subprime loans were prioritized. They were securitized as toxic junk. They were sold to unwary buyers. Doing so was the bank’s undoing. It profited hugely until its house of cards collapsed. Accountability never followed.

Environmentalists and conservationists express caution about Jewell. They have good reason to do so. She wasn’t chosen to be a friend of the earth. Responsible stewardship’s excluded from her mandate.

Western Energy Alliance president Tim Wigley said he hopes Jewell’s background translates into expanded oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

“We hope to see a better balance of productive development on non-park, non-wilderness public lands that enhances the wealth of America and creates jobs while protecting the environment” on her watch, he said.

Left unsaid is you can’t have one with the other. Drill, drill, drill runs counter to good stewardship.

Bush administration Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, praised Jewell. He knew her from earlier consultations. “She was always someone I wanted there because she’s a catalyst,” he said.

In other words, she supported Big Oil administration policies. She’s well suited for Interior, added Kempthorne.

She’s “effective and time-tested on taking on a variety of issues, deciphering them, and determining what is the most important and making a decision.”

Big Oil’s in good hands with Jewell. Friends of the earth have good reasons for concern.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/big-oils-in-good-hands-with-sally-jewell/

Big Oil’s in Good Hands with Sally Jewell

On February 6, Obama chose Jewell as new Interior Secretary. She'll replace Ken Salazar. He supported BP's Deepwater Horizon operation. He ignored environmental risks. He approved BP's exploration plan with no environmental analysis.

Brent oil price hits five-month high

The price of Brent oil has jumped to its highest level in five months, a day after the United States imposed new illegal sanctions against Iran.

On Thursday, the price of a barrel of European benchmark Brent for delivery in March rose to USD 117.83 in London trading, the highest level since mid-September.

The price hike came a day after the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in a new attempt to force the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear energy program.

On Wednesday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting Iranian oil revenue. The sanctions prevent Iran from gaining access to earnings garnered from its crude exports.


The sanctions require the importing countries to keep their payments at home and only release them in return for purchases of goods from them by Iran, to effectively lock up Iranian oil revenue overseas.

Iran responded by condemning the measures as yet another act of hostility from the US government.

The US has spearheaded several rounds of Western sanctions against Iran in recent years, based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

MN/MHB

Koch Brothers Driving Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Cut Out Venezuelan Oil

Greg Palast: Koch brothers could save two billion dollars a year if they can replace Venezuelan heavy crude crude with Canadian tar sands - one of the dirtiest sources of carbon emissions on the planet.

Bio

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures' Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Star Lawless Slams Oil Giant Shell Outside Court

New Plymouth, New Zealand - February 7 - Film and TV star Lucy Lawless and seven activists were today convicted and sentenced to 120 hours community service each for attempting to stop an Arctic-bound oil drilling ship last year.

Along with six Greenpeace volunteers, the New Zealand actress occupied the Shell-chartered Noble Discoverer in New Plymouth in February 2012 in a move that captured headlines around the world.

Speaking outside Taranaki District Court, Lawless said:

“We are proud to have taken part in our attempt to stop Shell’s reckless plans to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic.

“Since we occupied the Noble Discoverer, it has become evident to everyone watching, from the millions who have signed Greenpeace petitions to the US Government now examining Shell’s plans, that it can never be safe to drill in the Arctic.

“Shell’s Arctic programme has cost them billions and it’s now regarded as an eye-wateringly expensive failure.

“Let’s embrace clean energy; we’re going to have to anyway, so why not do it before they cause a major oil spill in the Arctic, and consign our grandchildren to an uncertain and dangerous world?”

Lawless and six others climbed the drilling tower of the Noble Discoverer on February 24, 2012 while it was moored in Port Taranaki. All were arrested after a 77-hour occupation of the tower. An eighth person was arrested on the first day of the operation. The ship had been working off the Taranaki coast and was preparing for the first stage of its trip to the Arctic.

Besides Lawless, the others sentenced today were Raoni Hammer from Lyttleton, Mike Buchanan from Diamond Harbour, Shayne Comino from Lyttleton, Viv Hadlow from Auckland, Shai Naides from Spain, Zach Penman from Hamilton and Ilai Amir from Auckland.

Additionally they were ordered to pay a total of NZ$5210 in reparation to the Port of Taranaki. The court declined to entertain Shell's claims for damages totalling about NZ$650,000 which the lawyer for the group, Ron Mansfield, said was “excessive and unjustified.”

-NOTES-

  • In July the Noble Discoverer slipped anchor in the sheltered waters of Dutch Harbor, Alaska;
  • In November the engine of the drill ship caught fire as it returned to Dutch Harbor, and had to be put out by specialist fire crews;
  • In December it was revealed that the oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement representative said that the sub-sea capping stack was “crushed like a beer can”.
  • On 31 December, Shell's sister Arctic drilling oil rig, the Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska whilst being towed back to harbour in Seattle. It had hit heavy weather in the Gulf of Alaska a few days earlier which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free;
  • In January 2013 Shell were cited by the US Environmental Protection Agency for violating its air pollution permits for both drill vessels;
  • Also in January, the US Government launched a review of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic.

Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Koch Brothers Driving Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Cut Out Venezuelan Oil

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Bio

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures' Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to the first of what will be a regular series of interviews with Greg Palast called The Palast Report. He now joins us from New York City.

Greg is a BBC investigative reporter. He writes in The Nation and Vice magazine. He's the author of the New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and latest book is Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.Thanks very much for joining us.GREG PALAST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Glad to be with you, Paul.JAY: So what are you working on this week?PALAST: Ooh. I've been kind of playing with this oozing black snake, this kind of viperous tube of sludge called the XL Keystone Pipeline. And so I've been investigating by kind of pushing myself through this sludge pipe and seeing what is stuck in the ooze. And what I have found here is a fascinating story of the pipeline, the Koch brothers. And the story took me all the way back to Venezuela and Hugo Chávez. So that's what I'm working on right now, this untold story of Chávez, the Koch brothers, and the XL.JAY: So connect these three big dots.PALAST: Three big dots. Okay. The XL pipeline, Keystone pipeline, is the proposed pipeline, extension of a pipeline that would take tar sands oil from Canada—what they do is they have, you know, big bulldozers that rip up the earth, they melt the dirt, they melt the sludge, and there's this heavy goo that's kind of like hot asphalt, which they want to move down to refineries, down to Houston, Texas. And my first question was: what? Why? You know, isn't Texas where oil comes from? In fact, that's our big oil-exporting state, is Texas. So why are we taking oil from Canada past the north, the northern interior of the U.S., where we can use heating oil? Why are we taking it down to Houston? [incompr.] to Newcastle to the Gulf coast. And the answer is: Koch. The Koch brothers are the owners of the big refineries, like the Flint Hills refinery, along the Gulf coast of Texas. And you have to understand, refineries, these kind of giant filth machines, are actually very sensitive instruments. They can't just suck up and refine any old oil and throw filth into the air; they're very specialized machines. And the Gulf coast refineries, especially those controlled by the Koch brothers in Flint Hills, can really only handle heavy crude oil. So the stuff that's in Texas itself, West Texas crude, which is light and sweet, it's good oil; it's not filled with a lot of crappy sulphur. That's no good for the Texas refineries. Rather, they need that heavy, gunky stuff which is ultrapolluting. So there is a controversy right now, and there will be a big demonstration against the XL Keystone pipeline on February 17 in Washington. And I wanted to know why we're taking oil from Canada across the entire United States to Texas. And, again, it's because the Kochs want it. Now, why do they want it? The answer is, right now they're getting their oil—the only place they can get lots of heavy crude oil—if you want heavy crude, you've got to get it from a heavy dude named Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela. And one thing about Chávez, who I've known for many years, is that he doesn't let go of his nation's oil on the cheap. He is a cornerstone of OPEC. And Venezuela's been selling heavy crude at a premium to the price paid in Texas, because it costs more to get heavy oil from Venezuela than it does to get light oil down the road from Texas. But they have no choice, the Koch brothers, but paying Hugo for his gunky oil.Now, on the other hand, the Canadians not only are selling for less than Texas oil—they're selling, as of today—if you check out this week's reports, about $33 a barrel less is the price of West Canada Sands (WCS) oil, as they call it, versus WTI, the West Texas Intermediate. So you're saving about $35 a barrel—$35 a barrel—if you can get the oil from Canada as opposed to Venezuela. So they've got to cut off Chávez and they've got to bring the oil in from Canada. And that's the reason why we are talking about endangering the most sensitive aquifers and important—that is, water sources in America—to have a pipe with the filthiest oil in the planet, the most polluting oil on the planet, to drag it all the way from Canada all the way down to Texas so that the Koch brothers at Flint Hills can make—their savings would be about $2 billion a year that the Koch brothers will make off our risking the aquifers across the United States.JAY: So is the Koch brothers' refinery—it was primarily built to deal with Venezuelan oil?PALAST: They bought it that way. So, see, in other words, the Koch brothers—I've been investigating the Koch brothers. If you read Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, my latest book, I have several chapters on the Koch brothers. I've been investigating these guys for 17 years. In fact, when I first wrote about them for The Guardian, I called them the richest guys you've never heard of. Now you've heard of them.But the way that they make their money is not by, you know, being entrepreneurs or good investors or job creators. Their entire operation, the two brothers Koch, Dave and Charles, each worth over $20 billion, they make their money on political plays. So they'll take Sunoco, which wasn't making any money from its refinery in Texas having to buy from Venezuela, they took over Flint Hills and figured, a-ha, we'll just do the political play. If we can use our political muscle to jam a pipeline through the guts of the United States down to Texas—you know, and most people would think that that's mad, taking tar oil from Canada and bringing it to the Texas, to the Gulf coast—we can make a killing. And by the way, they're making an extra killing. When the Republicans were talking about the XL Keystone pipeline making us energy-independent—first of all, that assumes, by the way, that Canada is a suburb of Seattle—.JAY: Well, there's some truth to that, but go on.PALAST: Yeah, I know. Some Canadians feel that it works that way. We're not energy-independent if it comes from Canada. But if it comes from Canada, let's assume that this is our buddies, because they'll give us the oil cheap, and that's what makes them our buddies.It also undermines Hugo Chávez. They have to undermine Chávez, which they want to do for geopolitical reasons.But then the oil will not be used in the United States. It will be refined mostly for gasoline that will be sold at a premium in the Caribbean. Remember, these refineries are in the Gulf coast. Selling it, then running that stuff back into New Jersey is not a moneymaker. The way you make the money is you sell gasoline in places that don't have the refining capacity and will pay a premium, like, you know, Jamaica, Santa Domingo. That's where your money's going to be made. So this is oil from Canada which will then go into the Koch refineries and sold into the Caribbean. And we are paying the price in two ways—one, the massive danger of a break in these pipelines, which happen all the time. And that would be disastrous, given the areas it's going across. And the second is that because it will now open up new fields in Canada, because it will now make more tar sands finds economic, 'cause they'll have a market for it, we're going to have a massive, massive, massive increase in global warming chemicals that will be thrown into the air by the process of both the drilling, the refining, and the ultimate use of this product, which is the absolutely filthiest, filthiest oil—.JAY: Yeah, I think that Canadian tar sands, I think, is number-one or close to number-one producer of carbon emissions in a single place on the planet.PALAST: Yeah. I mean, Alberta is basically one big—is becoming a big dirt smokestack.Now, Obama has not made a decision on this. That is, he was afraid to approve Keystone XL pipeline before the election because he knew he would be lynched by environmentalists and people of Kansas, Nebraska, where the pipeline comes down. But now that the election's over, look out. In fact, my money would be on Obama approving the Keystone XL. There is a tremendous amount of pressure from the Koch brothers and from other oil interests, plus it plays into the administration's game of a widescale attack on Hugo Cházez. And that, by the way, includes the choice of John Kerry, who started this week as our new secretary of state. Senator Ketchup is—remember, his fortune is based on marrying into Mrs. Ketchup, Mrs. Heinz, and Heinz has had a running battle with Venezuela because Heinz property was confiscated by Chávez's government in a land-reform move. So, you know, if your—those tomatoes going into those bottles have now—those plants, ketchup plants were taken over by the Chávez government for the workers there. And so John Kerry is a longtime Chávez hater.This administration has totally swallowed, repeated, and amplified the anti-Venezuelan propaganda and foreign policy of George Bush.JAY: Alright. Thanks very much, Greg. And Greg will be back in a couple of weeks to tell us what he's working on. Thanks for joining us. PALAST: You're very welcome, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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Sacre Bleu! France Collapses Right as Spain, Italy and Greece Become Embroiled in Corruption...

The following is a excerpt from a recent client letter.

The house of cards that is Europe is close to collapsing as those widely held responsible for solving the Crisis (Prime Ministers, Treasurers and ECB head Mario Draghi) have all been recently implicated in corruption scandals.

Those EU leaders who have yet to be implicated in scandals are not faring much better than their more corrupt counterparts. In France, socialist Prime Minister Francois Hollande, has proven yet again that socialism doesn’t work by chasing after the wealthy and trying to grow France’s public sector… when the public sector already accounts for 56% of French employment.

France was already suffering from a lack of competitiveness. Now that wealthy businesspeople are fleeing the country (meaning investment will dry up), the economy has begun to positively implode.

The first sign of this came actually came from Germany. As we noted a few months ago, Germany had prepared a working group to examine the impact of an economic collapse in France.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has asked a panel of advisers to look into reform proposals for France, concerned that weakness in the euro zone's second largest economy could come back to haunt Germany and the broader currency bloc.

 

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters this week that Schaeuble asked the council of economic advisers to the German government, known as the "wise men", to consider drafting a report on what France should do…

 

"The biggest problem at the moment in the euro zone is no longer Greece, Spain or Italy, instead it is France, because it has not undertaken anything in order to truly re-establish its competitiveness, and is even heading in the opposite direction," Feld said on Wednesday.

 

"France needs labour market reforms, it is the country among euro zone countries that works the least each year, so how do you expect any results from that? Things won't work unless more efforts are made."

 

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/11/09/uk-germany-france-economy-idUKBRE8A80MN20121109

This German concern has proven to be well founded, as the recent spate of French economic data has been truly horrific.

Auto sales for 2012 fell 13% from those of 2011. Sales of existing homes outside of Paris fell 20% year over year for the third quarter of 2012. New home sales fell 25%. Even the high-end real estate markets are collapsing with sales for apartments in Paris that cost over €2 million collapsing an incredible 42% in 2012.

Since the EU Crisis began in 2008, France and Germany have been the two key countries backstopping the implosion. The fact that France is now facing an economic implosion does not bode well for the future of the Euro or the EU.

The other sovereign backdrop for the EU, Germany, is also experiencing an economic slowdown.

 

The German economy was hit hard by the euro zone crisis in the final quarter of last year, shrinking more than at any point in nearly three years as traditionally strong exports and investment slowed, the Statistics Office said on Tuesday…

 

Gross domestic product shrank by 0.5 percent in the final three months of 2012, the worst quarterly performance since Germany fell into a recession during the global financial crisis in 2008/2009 and only the second contraction since it ended.

 

The parlous fourth quarter pushed overall growth for the year down to 0.7 percent, a sharp slowdown from the 3.0 percent registered in 2011 and a post-reunification record of 4.2 percent in 2010. The 2012 figure was a tad below a Reuters consensus forecast for growth of 0.8 percent.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/15/us-germany-gdp-idUSBRE90E09Q20130115

Thus, we find that Europe’s primary political market props (EU leaders including ECB head Mario Draghi) are coming unraveled at the precise time that EU banks are showing warning signs and the most important EU economies are heading sharply south.

2013 is going to be a very interesting year for Europe.

We have produced a FREE Special Report available to all investors titled What Europe’s Collapse Means For You and Your Savings.

This report features ten pages of material outlining our independent analysis real debt situation in Europe (numbers far worse than is publicly admitted), the true nature of the EU banking system, and the systemic risks Europe poses to investors around the world.

It also outlines a number of investments to profit from this; investments that anyone can use to take advantage of the European Debt Crisis.

Best of all, this report is 100% FREE. You can pick up a copy today at:

http://gainspainscapital.com/eu-report/

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US sanctions on Iran raise oil prices

Oil prices have jumped following new US sanctions against Iran, with Europe's benchmark Brent rising to $116.73 per barrel.

Oil prices rallied on Wednesday after the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in a new attempt to force the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear energy program.

In London, the price of a barrel of European benchmark Brent closed at $116.73, up 21 cents from Tuesday.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March, closed at $96.62 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"The main mover this morning was the new US sanctions," said Rich Ilczyszyn at iiTrader.

"The market sold off pretty good this [Wednesday] morning and, on that story, came all the way back," the analyst added.

On Wednesday, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting Iranian oil revenue. The sanctions prevent Iran from gaining access to earnings garnered from its crude exports.


The sanctions require the importing countries to keep their payments at home and only release them in return for purchases of goods from them by Iran, to effectively lock up Iranian oil revenue overseas.

Iran responded by condemning the measures as yet another act of hostility from the US government.

The US has spearheaded several rounds of Western sanctions against Iran in recent years, based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

MN/MHB

Speed Trap: Big Oil Profits from High Gasoline Prices

WASHINGTON - February 6 - The Center for American Progress today released “Speed Trap: Big Oil Profits from High Gasoline Prices,” which shows that in 2012 BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell made a combined $118 billion in profits—and used billions of these dollars to buy back their own stock and lobby Congress—while collecting on special tax breaks and producing less oil. Meanwhile, American households spend nearly 4 percent of their pre-tax income for gas.

This column digs deeper into the big five’s latest earnings—including how they spent them—and explains why companies this profitable should not be receiving billions of dollars in special tax breaks—especially while conservatives plan severe cuts in vital middle-class programs such as Medicare and those devoted to education and cancer research.

The big five oil companies invested nearly $50 million of their abundant bounty in lobbying Congress in 2012. They spent nearly $8 million on federal campaign contributions, with Republican candidates receiving $4 for every $1 Democrats received. A major goal of these political efforts was to retain Big Oil’s special tax breaks, which are worth $2.4 billion annually, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Last March Big Oil successfully lobbied against a Senate bill to eliminate the special tax breaks. The bill was defeated by a vote of 51 to 47, with 60 votes needed for passage.

Maintaining the existing special tax breaks for the big five oil companies makes little sense. In essence, the policy allows Big Oil to force Americans to pay them twice: first at the pump through high gasoline prices and then again by robbing the U.S. Treasury of $2.4 billion annually—money that is replaced with tax revenue from the middle class. After posting enormous profits in 2012, elimination of these unnecessary special tax breaks for the five largest oil companies is long overdue.

Read the full column here.

Download full data on Big Oil’s profits and activities in 2012 (.xls)

To speak with Daniel J. Weiss, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.

Speed Trap: Big Oil Profits from High Gasoline Prices

WASHINGTON - February 6 - The Center for American Progress today released “Speed Trap: Big Oil Profits from High Gasoline Prices,” which shows that in 2012 BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell made a combined $118 billion in profits—and used billions of these dollars to buy back their own stock and lobby Congress—while collecting on special tax breaks and producing less oil. Meanwhile, American households spend nearly 4 percent of their pre-tax income for gas.

This column digs deeper into the big five’s latest earnings—including how they spent them—and explains why companies this profitable should not be receiving billions of dollars in special tax breaks—especially while conservatives plan severe cuts in vital middle-class programs such as Medicare and those devoted to education and cancer research.

The big five oil companies invested nearly $50 million of their abundant bounty in lobbying Congress in 2012. They spent nearly $8 million on federal campaign contributions, with Republican candidates receiving $4 for every $1 Democrats received. A major goal of these political efforts was to retain Big Oil’s special tax breaks, which are worth $2.4 billion annually, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Last March Big Oil successfully lobbied against a Senate bill to eliminate the special tax breaks. The bill was defeated by a vote of 51 to 47, with 60 votes needed for passage.

Maintaining the existing special tax breaks for the big five oil companies makes little sense. In essence, the policy allows Big Oil to force Americans to pay them twice: first at the pump through high gasoline prices and then again by robbing the U.S. Treasury of $2.4 billion annually—money that is replaced with tax revenue from the middle class. After posting enormous profits in 2012, elimination of these unnecessary special tax breaks for the five largest oil companies is long overdue.

Read the full column here.

Download full data on Big Oil’s profits and activities in 2012 (.xls)

To speak with Daniel J. Weiss, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogress.org.

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.

Ed Rendell Intervened For Oil Company to Stop EPA Contamination Case Against Range Resources

A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA's decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.

Ed Rendell At the center of the scandal sits former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the National Governors' Association.

Just weeks ago, the Associated Press (AP) broke news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shut down the high-profile Texas lawsuit and buried an accompanying scientific report obtained during the lawsuit's discovery phase in March 2012.

That confidential report, contracted out to hydrogeologist Geoffrey Thyne by the Obama EPA, concluded that methane found in the drinking water of a nearby resident could have originated from Range Resources' nearby shale gas fracking operation

Range Resources - which admitted at an industry conference that it utilizes psychological warfare (PSYOPs) tactics on U.S. citizens - launched an aggressive defense against the EPA's allegations that the company might be responsible for contaminating resident Steve Lipsky's groundwater.

AP explained in its investigation that resident Steve Lipsky, who has a wife and three young children, had "reported his family's drinking water had begun 'bubbling' like champagne" and that his "well...contains so much methane that the...water [is] pouring out of a garden hose [that] can be ignited."

In response, the Obama EPA ordered Range to halt fracking. Range was non-cooperative every step of the way, refusing to comply with the legal dictates of the discovery phase and not complying with the censored water sample study implicating the company with groundwater contamination.

The new twist exposed by EnergyWire's Mike Soraghan is that Ed Rendell, acting "as a spokesman for Range" Resources, "proposed certain terms" to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Exactly what was said remains unclear, but the EPA ultimately dropped its case against Range.  

Over a thousand pages of emails obtained by EnergyWire "offer behind-the-scenes insights in a case that has come to be seen as a major retreat by the agency amid aggressive industry push-back and support for natural gas drilling by President Obama."

Rendell: Range's Chosen One or Rogue Lobbyist?

The emails obtained by EnergyWire reveal that Rendell intervened directly with Administrator Jackson at some point in 2011, presumably after his term as Pennsylvania's governor came to a close on Jan 18, 2011. An EPA attorney's email indicated that Rendell said he was there "as a spokesman for Range." 

According to the National Institute on Money in State PoliticsRendell took almost $200,000 from the oil and gas industry in the run-up to his 2006 electoral victory and while governor, he described himself as the industry's "best ally."

Upon completion of his gubernatorial stint, Rendell immediately fled to the private sector. He currently works both as an Operating Partner at Element Partners and as a Senior Advisor at Greenhill & Co., Inc.

Element Partners describes itself as a firm that, among other things, provides "services to the energy, industrial, and environmental markets" and "capital for growth, acquisitions, shareholder liquidity, recapitalizations, and buyouts." It provides investment capital for numerous oil and gas industry clients

Greenhill is a similar firm, describing itself as a "leading independent investment bank focused on providing financial advice on significant mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, financings and capital raisings to corporations, partnerships, institutions and governments." Like Element, Greenhall also provides investment capital for numerous oil and gas corporations.

Prior to the completion of Rendell's final term as governor, three of his former aides abruptly left their jobs to work as shale gas industry lobbyists. Their names: Kenneth Scott Roy, Barbara Sexton, and Sarah Battisti. 

Sexton, Rendell's former Executive Deputy Secretary of the PA Department Environmental Protection (DEP), transitioned into a gig working as a lobbyist for industry giant Chesapeake Energy. Battisti, another of Rendell's cadre of Deputy Chiefs-of-Staff, became a lobbyist for BG (British Gas) Group

The third, K. Scott Roy, wound up as a lobbyist for Range Resources as Vice President for Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs.

Is Scott Roy the Bridge Between Ridge, Rendell, Range and MSC?

In his Range Resources bio, K. Scott Roy describes his former position as Ed Rendell's "top advisor." His official title was Executive Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor. Roy also serves on the Executive Board of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the gas industry's aggressive lobbying arm in statehouses located within the Marcellus Shale basin. Prior to serving in the Rendell administration, Roy worked in the office of former PA Governor Tom Ridge, who went on to serve as  in 2012.  

It is as yet unclear what role Scott Roy played as one of Range's hired guns to fend off the EPA lawsuit. Might he have contacted his old boss Ed Rendell for help pressuring the Obama administration to lay off Range? It seems a reasonable question to ask. 

Range Denies Rendell Worked on its Behalf

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella (of PSYOPs revelation notoriety) denied any connection between the company and Rendell.

"I don't know the extent of the governor's involvement in energy-related matters, but he never functioned as a spokesperson of Range," Pitzarella told EnergyWire.

Given the ties that bind Rendell to Range, though, the words "plausible deniability" come to mind.

Coming full circle, it's important to remember the human side of this story. Lipsky's family now pays $1,000 per month for water deliveries, with life for them changed forever. 

"This has been total hell," Lipsky told the AP. "It's been taking a huge toll on my family and on our life." 

Determining the truth of what happened with the EPA's failed investigation and lawsuit against Range Resources won't change the Lipskys' predicament, but it would go a long way towards identifying the grasp of the oil industry's tentacles on Washington.

Syria foils infiltration attempt by militants

Syrian Army forces have driven back a group of militants who were attempting to enter the country from the Lebanese border. The gunmen, who were riding cars and motorcycles, tried to enter the Syrian city of Talkalakh, located 150 kilometers (93 miles...

Leaked Arctic Council Oil Spill Response Agreement ‘Vague and Inadequate’

WASHINGTON - February 4 - On the eve of the Arctic Council environment minister’s meeting, a leaked copy of the Council’s much-heralded oil spill response agreement reveals deeply inadequate measures and a lack of effective penalties after nearly two years of development.

The document, entitled Co-operation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, is set to be adopted by foreign ministers at the main Arctic nations meeting in May. [1]

A draft obtained by Greenpeace contains vague language asking countries to take ‘appropriate steps’ to deal with a spill, but without specifying a minimum level for what those might be; and contains a series of major omissions including any discussion of oil company liabilities or effective arrangements in case of a transboundary incident.

Ben Ayliffe, head of the Arctic Oil campaign for Greenpeace International, said:

“This draft agreement does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Arctic Council to protect this fragile region when the worst happens. It’s incredibly vague, it fails to hold oil companies liable for the impact of their mistakes, and there is nothing here that ensures adequate capacity to deal with a spill in these nations.

“Serious questions remain about the role that oil companies played in drafting this agreement, and whether the Arctic Council is prepared to police this pristine natural environment effectively. The eyes of the world are watching but currently the Arctic Council is not standing up to scrutiny.”

Photos issued on the Arctic Council’s Flickr photostream show oil industry representatives participating in the working group, including the final meeting in which the document was finalised. [2]

The agreement asks so little of Canada, Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US, that it is effectively useless, Ayliffe said.

Despite promises that this would be the first legally-binding agreement of its kind, it fails to outline any essential response equipment, methods for capping wells, or cleaning up oiled habitat and wildlife, relying instead on vague statements that Arctic nations should “ensure” they try and take “appropriate steps within available resources.”
“No oil company has ever proven it can clean up an oil spill in ice. The agreement offers nothing whatsoever in terms of identifying how a company would stop and clean up a Deepwater Horizon-style disaster,” Ayliffe continued. “Instead, this document is akin to the UN Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty simply saying, ‘If it’s not too much trouble, please have a national plan to not detonate atomic bombs’.”
The Arctic Council fails to set out a minimum set of technical capabilities that nations need to have in place before drilling. Given that many Arctic drilling areas are exceptionally remote, there is no guarantee that resources would be either available or adequate. [3]
-ENDS-
For more information, please contact:
Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace International, head of Arctic oil campaign +44 7815 708683
Greenpeace International press desk hotline +31 (0)20 718 24 70
Prof. Richard Steiner, biologist and oil spill expert, +1-907-360-4503

NOTES

[1] The full version of Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic can be found here: http://act.gp/W7vvWm

[2] Photos issued on the Arctic Council’s Flickr photostream show oil industry representatives participating in the working group, including the final meeting in which the document was finalised. Peter Velez represented Shell as part of the US delegation (second from the left), while Vladimir Dimitrov represented Gazprom (not pictured). http://www.flickr.com/photos/arctic_council/8199302131/sizes/k/in/set-72...

[3] Even Shell Alaska’s own vice-president Pete Slaiby admits: "There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20310752

Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Big Oil Raked in Billions as Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices

Big Oil Raked in Billions as Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices

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Posted on Feb 3, 2013
Screenshot

Gas prices in California were more than $5 a gallon at one point last year.

While you were paying record prices at the pump in 2012, the cash was flowing to oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, according to recently released earning reports. Exxon, which is now the world’s most valuable company, made $45 billion while Chevron’s profit was $26.2 billion.

In total, Big Oil—which benefits from continued subsidies paid by you, the taxpayer—earned more than $100 billion during the year.

Here are some highlights of Exxon’s and Chevron’s reports from Think Progress:

Exxon Mobil:

  Exxon received $600 million annual tax breaks. In 2011, Exxon paid just 13 percent in taxes. The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.

  Exxon’s oil production was down 6 percent from 2011.

  In fourth quarter, Exxon bought back $5.3 billion of its stock, which enriches the largest shareholders and executives of the company.

...

Chevron:

  In October, Chevron made the single-largest corporate donation in history. Chevron dropped $2.5 million with the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC to elect House Republicans.

  The bulk of Chevron’s federal contributions came from the super PAC donation, for a total of $3.87 million for the 2012 cycle. 85 percent went to Republicans.

  Chevron spent $9.55 million lobbying Congress in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Read more

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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Big Oil Raked in Billions as Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices

Big Oil Raked in Billions as Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share
Posted on Feb 3, 2013
Screenshot

Gas prices in California were more than $5 a gallon at one point last year.

While you were paying record prices at the pump in 2012, the cash was flowing to oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, according to recently released earning reports. Exxon, which is now the world’s most valuable company, made $45 billion while Chevron’s profit was $26.2 billion.

In total, Big Oil—which benefits from continued subsidies paid by you, the taxpayer—earned more than $100 billion during the year.

Here are some highlights of Exxon’s and Chevron’s reports from Think Progress:

Exxon Mobil:

  Exxon received $600 million annual tax breaks. In 2011, Exxon paid just 13 percent in taxes. The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.

  Exxon’s oil production was down 6 percent from 2011.

  In fourth quarter, Exxon bought back $5.3 billion of its stock, which enriches the largest shareholders and executives of the company.

...

Chevron:

  In October, Chevron made the single-largest corporate donation in history. Chevron dropped $2.5 million with the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC to elect House Republicans.

  The bulk of Chevron’s federal contributions came from the super PAC donation, for a total of $3.87 million for the 2012 cycle. 85 percent went to Republicans.

  Chevron spent $9.55 million lobbying Congress in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Read more

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

More Below the Ad

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every week.

Previous item: Marxist Group Claims It Bombed U.S. Embassy in Turkey



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Iranian Oops: US may have broken own sanctions by buying Tehran’s oil

There is a high probability that US sanctions against Iran have been violated by its own army. Part of the $1.55 billion in fuel the US bought from Turkmenistan for the Afghan army in the last five years may have originated in Iran.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) suggested that “despite actions taken by DOD to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with US funds, risks remain that US economic sanctions could [have been] violated” from 2007 to 2012.

Most of the fuel for domestic Afghan consumption comes from neighboring Iran. Because of the US sanctions on Tehran restricting the trade of Iranian oil and petroleum products, the ISAF has been required to abide by the regulations and buy petrol from eight Afghan-owned companies that deliver petroleum from Turkmenistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

The SIGAR report also acknowledged there are no plausible oversight mechanisms to make sure Iranian petroleum products are not included in future fuel purchases.

Turkmenistan is a major regional oil producer, which also trades for petroleum products made in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran. Petrol vendors in Turkmenistan use flexible supply schemes, meaning that fuel of various origins could potentially be blended together.

In response to a draft of SIGAR report, the US Embassy in Kabul stated that “it is possible that if blending is taking place in Turkmenistan it could contain some Iranian fuel,” but refused to admit that fuel imported from Russia could also be blended with Iranian fuel prior to its import into Afghanistan.

All fuel imports carry a ‘verified Fuel Passport’ from the refinery, which provides information on the origin, quantity, quality, and specifications of the fuel,” the embassy explained.

“Suppliers are unlikely to blend Iranian fuel, or any other product, with other sourced fuel because of the potential that blending could cause product deviation from specification standards and potentially cause a rejection of the entire shipment,” the embassy said.

In 2012, the Pentagon reportedly spent over $800 million on imports from Turkmenistan, most likely for fuel purchases.

Iran escaping sanctions

Western sanctions have taken their toll on Iran: Tehran was formerly OPEC's second-largest oil producer, exporting 2.2 million barrels of oil daily. The sanctions more than halved that figure, to 890,000 barrels of oil exported a day by September 2012.

The Iranian economy has lost billions of dollars in revenue, plunging to decades-low figures. The value of the national currency, the rial, has taken a kamikaze dive; the Iranian leadership, including incendiary President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was forced to publicly admit the sanctions were having an effect.

But Tehran has quickly recovered from the US-EU sanctions imposed on its oil trade. By the end of last year, Iranian crude oil exports rose again to 1.4 million barrels per day. Most of the Iranian oil is sold to Asian countries such as China, India and Japan, where demand for energy is growing. The expansion of Iran’s tanker fleet also helped the Islamic Republic circumvent the sanctions.

The US believes that the most common trick Iran uses to dodge sanctions is ship-to-ship transfers (STS), in which large tankers leaving Iran’s ports offload Iranian oil to smaller vessels. Then, the Iranian oil is blended with that of another country to disguise it. After that, new shipping documents are issued, giving the blended oil shipment a new identity, Reuters reported.

The US has scrambled to enact countermeasures on the news that its sanctions are being skirted. Reuters reported on Thursday that the US State Department is planning to target companies that deliberately disguise Iranian oil shipments to evade Western sanctions.

Also, an unnamed US official said that the US authorities are “increasingly aware of this STS issue,” and that companies involved in covert deals for Iranian oil will be punished. Sanctions violators could be prohibited from trading with the US companies, for example.

Glencore to become key Russian oil trader

AFP Photo / Sebastian Derungs

AFP Photo / Sebastian Derungs

Rosneft ‘deal of the century’ could turn the world biggest commodity trader Glencore into one of the top suppliers of Russian oil. This would be a major breakthrough for an outsider to become a Russian market heavyweight.

A deal with cash hungry Rosneft to pre-pay $10bn for future Russian oil has helped Glencore skyrocket in the country’s market in just over a year, Reuters reports.

"A year ago it would all have seemed impossible. But having seen Glencore's rise over the past year, I'm now pretty confident they will be around and play big for many years," a trader with a rival told the news agency.

In late December 2012 Rosneft secured an estimated $10bn in advance payment from trading companies Vitol and Glencore, with the entire deal estimated at about $50 -$55bn. That’s to pay for the Rosneft megadeal to acquire TNK-BP, which will turn the Russian company into the world’s biggest traded entity.

Under the agreement with oil traders, Rosneft agreed to ship up to 67 million tonnes of oil over 5 years, and Glenore will be responsible for about 47mln tonnes.

Until recently, Glencore’s biggest investment in Russia’s oil was a minority stake in mid-sized company Russneft, which was jeopardized after Mikhail Gutseriyev, the oil company's founder, fell out with the Kremlin. The trader’s earlier attempts to cooperate with Rosneft failed, with rumours saying then it was due to tensions between Igor Sechin, Rosneft Chairman, and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, and tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who has links to Glencore through the aluminium trade.

The sentiment changed when Sechin left the government in May and was appointed Rosneft chief executive. Unlike a previous role as chairman, the new position meant deep involvement in operations. Igor Sechin took a course of industry consolidation and sealed a $55bn deal to buy out the Russian – British oil consortium TNK – BP.

"Rosneft was looking to finance the deal and Glencore has good relations with a large number of banks. The company was prepared to step up to the plate and quickly arrange pre-financing for Rosneft," the high-level source concluded.

Mexico: Pemex Oil Company HQ Blast Kills 25

Fourteen people are dead and 80 injured after an explosion at the headquarters of Mexican oil company Pemex. Injured workers were seen being evacuated after the blast at the state-owned firm blew out windows and damaged three floors of the tower in Me...

14 killed in Mexico oil company HQ blast

Firefighters belonging to the Tacubaya sector and workers dig for survivors after an explosion at an adjacent building to the executive tower of Mexico's state-owned oil company PEMEX, in Mexico City, Thursday Jan. 31, 2013.

As many as 14 people have been killed after a powerful explosion at the headquarters of Mexico's state-run oil company Pemex in Mexico City.

“We have 13 dead at the scene and one more at the hospital. There are more than 80 wounded and we continue to look for survivors in the debris,” AFP quoted Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong as saying on Thursday.

The blast, which was reportedly caused by “an accumulation of gas” in a power supply room, inflicted heavy damage on three floors of the 52-story building of Petroleos Mexicanos.

“It was an explosion, a shock, the lights went out and suddenly there was a lot of debris,” employee Cristian Obele was quoted as saying.

Another worker said the “strong explosion” shattered windows, leaving a large number of people in shock.

President Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexico City’s Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera rushed to the scene.

KA/HN

Fifteen dead, scores injured as blast rocks Mexican state oil company’s HQ (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Blast rocks Mexican state oil company's building

Blast rocks Mexican state oil company's building

At least one person has reportedly been killed and at least 30 injured after a blast rocked the high-rise headquarters of Pemex, a state-owned Mexican oil company, in Mexico City.

­At least one person has been confirmed dead in the explosion, Mexico's Milenio Diario reports.

The Pemex tower has been evacuated, with police, rescue and army at the scene.

A gas buildup in an electric substation in the tower's basement is thought to have caused the explosion, though authorities have not confirmed that this is definitely the source.

Pemex had reported a problem with the building's power supply prior to the blast, Reuters reports.

­DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Toothless sanctions? Iranian oil trade booming, China top buyer

An Iranian man works on an oil production platform. (Reuters)

An Iranian man works on an oil production platform. (Reuters)

Iran has quickly found ways to circumvent the EU sanctions imposed on its oil trade in July. After dipping sharply in summer of 2012, Iranian crude oil exports rose again by the end of the year.

­So far, Iran’s December crude oil sales were the highest recorded since the sanctions were first imposed. Iran exported 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, compared to less than 900,000 bpd in September. Pre-sanctions oil exports stood at 2.2 million bpd in late 2011.

EU sanctions, introduced in January 2012 and put into effect in July, aimed to curb Iran's ambitious nuclear program, which Tehran has insisted is only for peaceful purposes. The Iranian economy is heavily dependent on oil sales – the cuts in production lead to billions of dollars in lost revenue and a plunge in the value of the national currency.

Analysts believe that sales to Asia and the expansion of Iran’s tanker helped the Islamic Republic circumvent the sanctions. In countries like China, India and Japan, Iranian oil constitutes more than 10 percent of the total crude supply – and demand from Asia is only growing.

"China is saying let's up the numbers because no-one is doing anything about it and it looks like Obama has made a political decision not to go to war with Iran," a senior source at a large independent trading house told Reuters.

Iran is also improving its delivery channels, despite the numerous bans and restrictions imposed by the international community.

"Iran bought a number of tankers from China and can now do more deliveries. It's taken some pressure off Iran and facilitated tanker traffic and we are seeing higher exports to China," analyst Salar Moradi at oil and gas consulting firm FGE told Reuters.

Meanwhile, a fresh round of US sanctions looms for Iran. Starting on February 6, US law will prevent the Islamic republic from repatriating earnings from its oil export trade. The ban is in addition to the already-existing restrictions, including the country's removal from the SWIFT global financial service and an indefinite international asset freeze.

The new sanctions are expected to reduce export volumes to around 1 million barrels per day, the International Energy Agency predicted. However, analysts believe that further sanctions will not stop Iran from selling oil or pursuing its nuclear goals.

"What we have seen is that when Iran is pushed to a do or die situation, they have looked for creative solutions to get around sanctions," oil and gas analyst Elena McGovern of Business Monitor International told Reuters. "The system will always find a way to cope."

The international community has been failing to engage in constructive dialogue with Iran on its nuclear program. The so-called ‘sixtet’ of ‘5+1’ states – Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany – met three times last year with little to no results. The next round of talks has been stalled until a venue for the meeting is agreed upon.

"Some of our partners in the six powers and the Iranian side cannot come to an agreement about where to meet, behaving like little children," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. He stressed that Russian mediators “are willing to meet at any location.” 

While the West has demanded that Iran abandon its nuclear aspirations, Iran refuses to back down: Tehran has seized every opportunity to advance its nuclear capabilities. On Thursday, Iranian officials informed the UN nuclear agency of its plan to use more modern centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

Keep Dirty Oil Out of New England

Protesters gathered in downtown Portland, Maine, on Saturday and then marched to the city’s waterfront to protest against a possible proposal to pipe tar sands oil from Canada through Northern New England. (Photo: Gregory Rec via AP)From north to south and east to west, people across the United States and Canada are increasingly coming together to fight against the expansion of the Alberta tar sands and efforts to move the highly toxic bitumen — tar sands “oil” — through pipelines to the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. From US ports the bitumen would be shipped primarily to China.

Why do I care? Even before I learned that ExxonMobile is gearing up to try to send tar sands oil east through Vermont — my home state — and New Hampshire to a shipping port in Portland, Maine through decades old pipelines, I was opposed to tar sands expansion and pipeline projects.

Global warming and the obvious changes to our weather patterns cannot sustain more exploitation of fossil fuels. And tar sands expansion is among the worst threats. After the oil fields of Saudia Arabia, the full development of Alberta tar sands will create the world’s second largest potential source of global warming gases. I saw for myself the impact of the tar sands on the environment and people of Western Canada.

Last October I led a delegation of women from the United States and Canada to the tar sands of Alberta. We began in Ft McMurray, and then traveled along the proposed route of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that will carry tar sands oil from Prince George, in beautiful northern British Columbia, all the way to the sea at Kitimat on the Douglas Channel.

While in Canada, I met with and listened to the concerns of over 200 women in 13 communities — women nursing babies, women in wheelchairs, some women representing environmental and community organizations, many from First Nation groups. They spoke passionately about how the massive expansion of the oil sands and pipeline and tanker projects will impact on their communities, forests, rivers, oceans, and air. Some told us of powerful court challenges they are mounting against the tar sands, others described their very real fears about oil spills and what this will do to their livelihoods and way of life. The tar sands oil is the dirty, and they don’t want it their backyard.

And I don’t want it in mine.

Along with most Americans, I am deeply disturbed by the rapid pace of climate change and want our leaders to take meaningful action. Last year I wrote last year to President Obama, together with nine other Nobel Peace laureates, urging him to lead the transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency. I also joined tens of thousands in demonstrating at the White House to urge him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry tar sands oil from Canada through six states to reach the Gulf of Mexico. But that is still not enough.

What I heard in Western Canada echoes what I am hearing across the continent. Many people are moved to action by changing weather patterns, and their fears for the future of their families. Warmer temperatures are hitting Northern British Columbia’s forestry industry hard. Closer to home, last year was the hottest on record in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, by more than one degree — as it was for the entire continental United States. A record 11 wildfires, droughts and storms in 2012 exceeded $1 billion in damages, and of course Superstorm Sandy late last year devastated the lives of many communities in New Jersey and New York.

Yet, through it all, our leaders in the US and Canada continue to collude with the oil industry for a rapid expansion of the tar sands. This kind of leadership is taking us in the opposite direction of where we need to go. Production of tar sands oil needs to be capped, and we need to start investing in other energy sources.

Like thousands resisting the pipelines in Canada and the Keystone XL, we here in New England will say no to tar sands.

We will be united in telling leaders of both nations to stop the madness. Listen up Prime Minister Harper: Canada’s National Energy Board must hear the will of the people and deny approval of this pipeline plan. And our message to President Obama, as he starts his second term, is clear: Become a climate leader. Keep tar sands out of New England by refusing to issue this pipeline a new presidential permit.

As a Vermonter, an American, a global citizen, I am proud to join this call.

© 2012 The Boston Globe

Jody Williams

Jody Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

‘Iraq unity will foil enemy plots’

Iran Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani (R) talks to Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar Hakim in Tehran on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.

Iran Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani says the Iraqi nation will foil conspiracies by practicing national unity and avoiding political disputes.

“The vigilant and revolutionary people of Iraq will neutralize these plots [hatched by enemies] by steering clear of differences,” Larijani said in a meeting with the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim in Tehran on Tuesday.

Larijani stressed the importance of strengthened unity among Iraqi tribes and ethnic groups.

He further lauded Tehran-Baghdad brotherly and friendly relations and expressed the Islamic Republic’s willingness to enhance cooperation with its neighbor.


Hakim, for his part, briefed Larijani on the latest developments in Iraq, and said the enemies’ plots will fail due to the finesse of Iraqi officials and the vigilance of Iraqi people.

Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when the bodyguards of Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi were arrested on terrorism-related charges.

The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. However, Baghdad says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws.

YH/KA/SS

Huge New Slick at Site of BP’s 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Wings of Care provided new photos of an oil slick in the area of the Gulf oil spill, noting:

Here is the large surface slick that has been sitting over the Macondo area since last autumn, with as yet no explanation from BP or the US Coast Guard as to its origin. Its persistence, even after the weeks of rough weather we have had in recent weeks and months, suggests that its flow is substantial. Scientists who have sampled it have found evidence of manmade products such as drilling mud.

Wings of Care provided an update yesterday:

The most troubling vision today was the Macondo area itself. The slick that we had first noticed last fall, which was spreading over the area within a half-mile or so of the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was huge today. It stretched over 7 nautical miles in the south-north direction and was almost a mile wide in some spots. There were some patches of rainbow sheen and even some weathered oil (brownish “mousse”), although overall it remained a light surface sheen.

***

There are patches of rainbow and weathered “mousse” in it as well, which we have not seen out there for many months.

Stuart Smith provides context:

In Louisiana, we are blessed to have a one-woman environmental protection agency by the name of Bonny Schumaker. A retired NASA physicist and pilot, Schumaker has found a way to merge her love of all creatures and her passion for flying to create an amazing operation called On Wings Of Care. She flies animal rescue missions but since 2010 has also devoted a lot of her energy toward helping her fellow citizens learn the truth about the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

When the authorities wanted to restrict the public’s access to the site of the massive spill, Schumaker and her flights have documented both the scope of the spill and the extent of damage to marine life — and she hasn’t let up. In August 2011 and again in October 2012, her photographic evidence has forced BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies to acknowledge and to investigate new sightings of fresh oil sheens near where BP’s rig blew up and sank. We’re still not satisfied with BP’s response to the problem, and we’re concerned that the oil may actually be coming from fissures under the sea.

One thing is undeniably clear from the photographic evidence: The oil is still there, 33 months after the explosion.

***

Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey (who may win election to the U.S. Senate later this year) said of the ongoing problems at the site: “Back in 2010, I said BP was either lying or incompetent. Well, it turns out they were both. This is the same crime scene, and the American public today is entitled to the same information that BP was lying about in 2010 so that we can understand the full dimension of the additional environmental .”

Lower Mississippi River shut down after huge oil spill

Two barges struck a Mississippi River bridge Sunday morning, causing an oil spill that kept part of the waterway shut down to ship traffic and held up at least 21 boats, barges and vessels.

One of the two tank barges was carrying more than 80,000 gallons (302,833 liters) of light crude oil, an unknown amount of which spilled into the Mississippi River after the vessel hit the Vicksburg Railroad river bridge. Cleanup crews have not yet determined the extent of the oil spill, but a pollution response team is currently assessing the size of the spill and monitoring tank levels for further leakage, the US Coast Guard relayed in a press release. Each of the two ships contains eight tanks of oil.

A section of the lower Mississippi River has been closed to all traffic, backing up at least 21 tugboats, barges and other vessels going both northbound and southbound, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Ryan Gomez told the Associated Press.

The spill occurred at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, and oil was reported as far as three miles downriver later that day. Cleanup clews, including the US Environmental Services, are frantically trying to prevent the oil from spreading and have laid out containment booms – temporary floating barriers used to contain an oil spill.

“They have the boom to contain any cruise oil that’s leaking out of the barge. They have a secondary boom to corral any crude oil that gets past the first boom,” Gomez told AP.

“They are continuing to try to remove the product from the damaged tank to one of the non-damaged tanks on the same barge. The ultimate goal is to transfer all of the crude to a different barge,” he added.

Gomez said investigators are still trying to determine how the accident happened. Third Coast Towing LLC, the company that owns the two barges, has not made any public statements about the collision and has not responded to reporters' requests for comment. At the time of the accident, both vessels were being pulled by the tugboat Nature’s Way Endeavor.

The Mississippi River has suffered numerous oil spills in the past few years, which carry the risk of further devastating the Gulf Coast. In February 2012, part of the river was shut down for one day after an oil barge collided with a construction barge and spilled about 10,000 gallons of oil. In 2008, a fuel barge collided with a tanker, breaking in half and spilling 283,000 gallons of heavy crude into the waterways and keeping a large part of the river shut down for nearly a week.

Large oil spills can leak into the Gulf of Mexico, but Gomez believes the newly spilled oil will not travel the 344 river miles to the gulf. If more oil had been released, then it could have affected residents and businesses in the Gulf Coast states who are still recovering from the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which released 200 million gallons of oil into the water and killed 11 people.

Still, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Jason McDonald said it’s too early to predict the environmental impact.

“Rivers have a different dynamic than oceans and gulfs,” he told the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s too early to tell.”

The Coast Guard does not know how long the afflicted portion of the Mississippi River will remain closed.

Crash of River Barge Creating Oil Disaster in the Mississippi

(Photo: AP)A unknown amount of crude oil continues to pour into the Mississippi River after a barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil crashed into a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., early Sunday morning.

"It's still considered an active leak," said Lt. Ryan Gomez of the Coast Guard's office in Memphis, Tenn. "We don't have an estimate or accurate amount of what was released," he said, though an oily sheen was reportedly spotted three miles downriver of Vicksburg.

According to reports, "a towing vessel was pushing two barges side-by-side and they struck one of the Vicksburg railroad bridge piers." 

Cleanup crews are currently on the scene trying to contain the ongoing spill, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reports. The Coast Guard, the Ledger adds, has closed the waterway for eight miles in each direction.

Though the second barge was damaged, there is reportedly no indication that any oil is leaking from the second vessel. The two barges are owned by Third Coast Towing LLC, based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Global Mining and Tar Sands Oil Drive Canadian Foreign Policy

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And we're continuing our series of interviews with Yves Engler, author of the book The Ugly Canadian, all about Stephen Harper's foreign policy. And Yves now joins us from Ottawa. Thanks for joining us, Yves.

YVES ENGLER, AUTHOR AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for having me.JAY: When you look at Stephen Harper's foreign policy in sort of big-picture terms, in terms of the political centers in the United States, the sort of neocons around the Republican Party, the sort of center, center-right neoliberals, if you want to call them, in the Democratic Party, I mean, both see America as—needs to be the dominant power. Both want to project American strength and so on and shape events in the globe as best they can through military strength. But there is a difference between that neocon strategy that led to the Iraq War and the sort of, you could say, more—some people call more rational or more pragmatic strategy, empire strategy of Obama. During the time of the Iraq War, Stephen Harper was against Jean Chrétien, the prime minister of Canada. Chrétien was—mostly kept Canada out of the Iraq War. But Stephen Harper was gung ho. He wanted Canada to join in with Iraq. ~~~STEPHEN HARPER, MEMBER, CANADIAN HOUSE OF COMMONS: Mr. Speaker, the situation in Iraq is moving towards imminent crisis and military action. Canadian forces have been on the ground there for some time. In fact, 150 military personnel are involved in joint command arrangements with British and American troops on the ground. Is this deployment continuing? Will these personnel remain in the event of war with Iraq?~~~JAY: Does Harper come down more on the side of the neocons? And is he part of that both mindset and alliances?ENGLER: Yeah, I think so. I mean, he called for Canada to join the Iraq War. I think it's, like, 45 times in the House of Commons he criticized the Liberal government for not explicitly joining or demanding to join. So, yeah, I think he comes down more on the neocon side. I think part of what—and there is a sense of the Conservatives' party, I think, wants—to a certain extent want to kind of replicate what the hard right of the Republican Party has created, in terms of a political party based upon, you know, big-business interests and a sort of base of the party that is very socially conservative kind of Christian fundamentalist. And I think that the Harper government wants to—would like to replicate that and sees that very positively.And a lot of the Harper government foreign policy, you know, one element of understanding this is that foreign policy is the place where he really plays to the most right-wing sectors of the party—the Christian fundamentalists, the right-wing Jewish organizations, the Islamophobes, the mining sector, this military, mining and oil executives, military types. And foreign policy's the place where Harper gets to be as right-wing as he would want to be. On a lot of—on domestic issues he hasn't been as right-wing as a lot of the base would want him to be. And so he—foreign policy sort of—that's how it fits with his sort of electoral strategy. At the more kind of structural level, this rightward shift on Canadian foreign policy, I think, is largely explained by the incredible rise of Canadian mining investment abroad, going from $30 billion in 2002 to $210 billion today; in the case of Africa, going from about $250 million of Canadian investment in—mining investment in Africa in 1989 to $29 billion today. Canadian companies over the past 20, 25 years have just become huge players in international mining. And that's very much tied into the rise of structural adjustment programs that the International Monetary Fund pushed in Latin America and Africa. This sort of opening up of a country's national resource sector to foreign ownership has been very beneficial to Canadian companies. So I think that and the rise of Canadian mining investment's a big explanation for the more rightward shift in Canadian foreign policy. Another explanation is the rise of the tar sands and the oil there, the very highly—very dirty oil, heavy carbon emitting fuel that comes out of the tar sands. And basically, if you're going to expand the tar sands like the Conservative government, like the oil companies would like to see, you're basically telling the rest of the world to screw off when it comes to international climate negotiations. So they've sort of developed a sort of hostility towards the UN because of those oil interests in Latin America. So I think at a structural level the explanation for the more rightward shift in Harper's foreign policy is the rise in mining investment abroad and the rise of the tar sands over the past ten, 20 years.JAY: And in terms of Canadian public opinion, in the last federal election, foreign policy wasn't that big an issue, and he doesn't seem to be suffering consequences from a rightward shift in foreign policy. And even though, I guess, people can argue that the Harper government would not have been elected if there hadn't been sort of a split between the Liberals and NDP of some of the vote, they still didn't do very bad; they did pretty well, and many ridings won outright, in spite of the—they would have won anyway, even if there wasn't a split vote. Has something shifted in terms of Canadians, more broadly speaking, about foreign policy?ENGLER: No, I don't think the public attitude has shifted in—very minimally. I think that the reality is foreign policy is very rarely a major issue when it comes to elections. And most of the time, the dominant media and the opposition parties just go along with whatever the foreign-policy establishment puts forward. That's the general tendency. And so foreign policy's—because there's so little opposition, it is the place to really please the base of his party, right, because there's so little opposition being put up among the official sort of, you know, established political parties and media institutions.So there hasn't—I don't think that—if anything, in fact, Canadians are more internationalist today than they've ever been, I think, much more multicultural, people from many different countries around the world, you know, living in Canada and the population being more aware of global affairs. It's just that foreign-policy issues don't tend to be that high on people's lists of concerns.JAY: Let me ask you a question about Canadian media. What do you make of Canadian media coverage of foreign policy, and then particularly CBC, which one could say at least in the past was more willing to be critical of Canadian foreign policy, but I'm not so sure about these days?ENGLER: Yeah. I mean, the Canadian media is—it's owned by—vast majority of it's owned by a handful of companies. It's much more concentrated than U.S. media is, even. So, you know, it's—the coverage is absolutely terrible from the standpoint of an internationalist, humanist perspective. It's terrible coverage.And the CBC is very much unwilling to forthrightly criticize the Conservative government. Just a couple of nights ago, there was a four-person panel on The National, 15, 20 minutes where they dealt with Canadian foreign policy. And there's—you know, none of the four panelists are willing to—The National being the most important news show that is on the CBC, the nightly news, and there's almost no—the four panelists, basically no substantive criticism, or, you know, very soft criticism of the Conservative government.And, you know, there's—the media's not willing to stand up and say that, you know, Palestinians have been dispossessed for 100 years by Zionism in Israel and it's, you know, morally indefensible to support Israel's ongoing dispossession. You know, media's not willing to say, you know, climate change is already causing hundreds of thousands of people's deaths around the world, and, you know, it's a crime against humanity to try to block all international climate negotiation meetings like the Conservative government has done. Like, the media's not—you know, I had a producer at The Current, one of the big radio programs on the CBC, where he told me about how he'd bring to higher-up producers a story of a Canadian mining company involved with a local community in sort of devastating the local community. And the producer was [incompr.] didn't we cover that story last week? Well, yeah, you did, you covered that story last week from Guatemala. This story's about a Canadian mining company in Mexico, and the story is precisely the fact that this is happening all over the world, that Canadian mining companies are involved in these abuses all over the world, and that there needs to be, you know, public policy change in Canada to rein in some of these practices. But, you know, the media, the producer, higher-up producers, you know, didn't see it that way.JAY: Don't forget Canada's involved in a war. You wouldn't know it. Canada's still fighting in Afghanistan, and next to no debate about why Canada's there. I mean, I used to do a show on CBC called CounterSpin, and we had lots of debates, but we got canceled, and I don't think there's—even at that time, other than our show, there was debates about do Canadian jeeps have enough armor on them. There weren't a heck of a lot of debate on CBC other than CounterSpin—and since, not much—about why Canada's there anyway.ENGLER: Exactly. The media, that's one of the recent times they've just basically taken the government's talking points that the 950 Canadian troops that are still in Afghanistan, that's just training; we don't need to discuss that anymore; that's just training. Well, if you want to train Afghan troops, there's a very easy way of doing it: bring Afghan troops to Canada and train them here. It would be cheaper to do it than to maintain 950 Canadian troops there. It's about supporting the ongoing U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan. That's the point. It's—you know, we—very clearly. But the media just basically, you know, does the government's talking points. And that's—unfortunately, that's been mostly the nature of the dominant media. They basically follow the government's perspective.JAY: I should throw in there are exceptions that are notable. And on CBC you do find, you know, on certain shows, certain radio shows, you find individuals in some of the shows, like Fifth Estate, and on The Current, like you mentioned, you can find exceptions where there really is a critique, there's a guest. But they really are the exceptions.ENGLER: Of course. And I think those exceptions are becoming less and less. One of the things in the case of the CBC is the government has cut the CBC's budget back and has made it very clear that, you know, it's prepared to do, you know, further cutbacks if it is not pleased by what's on the CBC. But the CBC's just one example. For myself personally, I've now written five books about Canadian foreign policy. I can submit op-eds to from The National Post to The Toronto Star, the most left-wing newspaper in the country, and none of papers in the country will publish the op-eds, right, on Canadian foreign policy. On domestic issues, I've been able to submit some op-eds and get those pieces in. When it comes to foreign policy, the room for debate, the narrowness of the spectrum is very tight.JAY: Any mainstream media, CBC or otherwise, paying attention to your recent book about the ugly Canadian?ENGLER: I got a nice review in The Halifax Chronicle Herald, which is the daily in Halifax—you know, smaller marketplace; a small mention in The Toronto Star by a columnist, paragraph mentioned in a larger column; and, you know, a few very community—during the tour, a few sort of community or smaller-center newspapers, a little bit of coverage. But no one at the CBC, both at TV or radio—are completely unwilling to cover it. You know, a producer—I've been in communication with a producer at The Current. You know, she says, oh, yeah, I got your book, but, you know, can't do a story on this; maybe I'll keep you in mind for the future.JAY: It's kind of outrageous.ENGLER: I mean, the book is incredibly topical, right? There's all these stories about what the Conservatives are doing in terms of foreign policy. But their willingness to go to the point of saying things, making criticisms of the Conservative policy to say, you know, these are tantamount to crimes against humanity or that, you know, the fundamental moral criticisms of what's taking place, there's very little room for that. You can say, yes, these are mistakes they're making, these are—you know, this is weakening Canada's influence in the world. Those types of criticisms are sort of acceptable. If you start talking about these being fundamentally immoral policies, there's very little room for making those types of criticisms.JAY: Well, Yves's going to be a regular commentator on The Real News. So, Canadians, you'll have to stick with us if you want to see more of Yves Engler. Thanks for joining us, Yves.ENGLER: Thanks for having me.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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Vladivostok welcomes 2013 Universiade flame on Russian soil

Lighting the flame of the Kazan 2013 Summer Universiade in the Russian city of Vladivostok (RIA Novosti / Alexandr Kryazhev)

(23.1Mb) embed video

The flame that will light the 27th Universiade or World Student Games in Kazan this summer has landed in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok ahead of National Students' Day, before beginning its journey across Russia's nine time zones.

­The torch for the Kazan 2013 Universiade was lit on July 12 in Paris – the city that hosted the first World Student Games, in 1923.

It then began a round-the-world journey on the Russian sailing ship Sedov around the five continents. Severe storms in the Pacific Ocean delayed the ship's arrival in Vladivostok, so a special lantern transported the flame, by air, from the South Korean city of Pusan.

“The flame has finally arrived in Russia – and it's a big event for us,” Kazan Mayor Ilsur Metshin said. “It's made a long trip, and let this fire light up the enthusiasm for sport for everybody around the country.”

Vladivostok is the city in Russia where the next leg of the relay kicks-off. Travelling from east to west – from January to July – the torchbearers will carry the flame through all of Russia's student cities.

The captain of Kazan's ice hockey side Ak Bars, Alexey Morozov, was the first runner to start the relay from the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island – 6.500 kilometers from Moscow.

Despite temperatures as low as minus 20 Celsius, with strong winds 35-year-old Morozov didn't feel the cold.

“I enjoyed taking part in it,” he told RT. “Hopefully; this torch relay will be remembered for a long time. I was really touched by it.”

It's hoped that up-and-coming athletes will be inspired by this event and, for some students; the Universiade could be a stepping stone towards professional sport.

January 25 is Students' Day in Russia, also known as Saint Tatiana's Day, and it was symbolic that local student, and Kazan Universiade volunteer Tatiana Zubareva, finished the Vladivostok stage of the relay, before lightning the city's cauldron.

“It's an honor and a great privilege for me,” she said. “I was delighted to be a part of it, and talk to some of the athletes. We were all one team.”

The torch relay has started its 30,000 kilometer journey across Russian soil to the finish line at the Universiade.

After visiting thirty major student cities the lighting of the flame will become the climax to the Games' opening ceremony in Kazan, on July 6.

Iraq will foil divisive plots: Iran official

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili (R) meets head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim in Tehran, January 27, 2013.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili says the Iraqi nation will vigilantly thwart the divisive and sectarian plots against the Arab country.

During a meeting with the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim in Tehran on Sunday, Jalili said the Iraqi government’s democratic and popular foundation had helped it to overcome security and political crises.

Jalili further urged respect for the rights of all Iraqi individuals and ethnic tribal groups.

Hakim, for his part, briefed Jalili on the latest developments in Iraq. He further cited the cooperation among Iraqi political groups as a sign of the institutionalization of democracy in the country.

Thanks to their vigilance and deep political understanding, the Iraqi leaders and nation will foil the plots devised to disrupt the security in Iraq and impede the progress in this country, Hakim said.

MP/HMV/HJL

Iraq will foil divisive plots: Iran official

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili (R) meets head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim in Tehran, January 27, 2013.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili says the Iraqi nation will vigilantly thwart the divisive and sectarian plots against the Arab country.

During a meeting with the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim in Tehran on Sunday, Jalili said the Iraqi government’s democratic and popular foundation had helped it to overcome security and political crises.

Jalili further urged respect for the rights of all Iraqi individuals and ethnic tribal groups.

Hakim, for his part, briefed Jalili on the latest developments in Iraq. He further cited the cooperation among Iraqi political groups as a sign of the institutionalization of democracy in the country.

Thanks to their vigilance and deep political understanding, the Iraqi leaders and nation will foil the plots devised to disrupt the security in Iraq and impede the progress in this country, Hakim said.

MP/HMV/HJL

Iran responds to EU oil and gas sanctions with… oil and gas sanctions

Turning home? An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

Turning home? An oil tanker is seen off the port of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

Iran has slapped a ban on oil and gas exports to the European Union, even though the EU has already forbidden Iranian petrochemicals from entering its territory.

“Despite many requests by EU countries on buying oil and gas from Iran, Iran will not sell any oil and gas to those countries,” Oil Ministry Spokseman Alireza Nikzad Rahbar told the official Mehr news agency.

It is not clear what “requests” Nikzad Rahbar was referring to, as the EU stopped importing crude oil in July last year, and gas under the latest round of sanctions that came into force earlier this month.

It comes as fresh restrictions are being  implemented  by the EU, preventing Iranian banks from dealing with Europe, unless for humanitarian purposes. The embargoes are aimed at hindering Tehrans nuclear program, which Brussels believes is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s Central Bank’s assets in the EU have also been frozen and European shipyards cannot construct oil tankers destined for the Islamic Republic.

Nikzad Rahbar said Tehran’s counter-sanctions were a direct response to these “hostile decisions”.

The exact effectiveness and impact of the sanctions on Iran has been disputed, due to sketchy information coming from Tehran’s officials.

The US has estimated that Iran has lost more than $40 billion in revenues as a result of oil import bans gradually imposed over the past year, mostly by Western countries.

Earlier this month, Iranian oil minister Rostam Qasemi also confirmed that oil exports had fallen by 40 percent, which tallies with the US estimate.

At the same time, Nikzad Rahbar insisted to Mehr that the exports hadn’t been “affected much” and that “Iran has signed new contracts with other world oil companies”.

There has also been mounting speculation that Iran is circumventing the EU sanctions by setting up fronts in other countries, particularly neighboring Turkey, and exporting petrochemicals through third parties, though the scope of these transactions is unclear.

Officially, Iran’s GDP contracted by 1 percent last year, while its currency lost 80 percent of its value against the dollar.

Tehran insists that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, while the US and the EU say Iran is producing ever-greater quantities of enriched uranium, which is a key component of a functioning nuclear weapon.

Latest negotiations between the sides have hinged on Iran accepting a new inspection program from the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

After continually failing to even set a date for possible negotiations, the sides are now likely to meet for talks next month.

The New Mediterranean Oil and Gas Bonanza

The New Mediterranean Oil and Gas Bonanza

The discovery in late 2010 of the huge natural gas bonanza off Israel’s Mediterranean shores triggered other neighboring countries to look more closely at their own waters. The results revealed that the entire eastern Mediterranean is swimming in huge untapped oil and gas reserves. That discovery is having enormous political, geopolitical as well as economic consequences. It well may have potential military consequences too.

Preliminary exploration has confirmed similarly impressive reserves of gas and oil in the waters off Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and potentially, Syria.

Greek ‘energy Sirtaki’

Not surprisingly, amid its disastrous financial crisis the Greek government began serious exploration for oil and gas. Since then the country has been in a curious kind of a dance with the IMF and EU governments, a kind of “energy Sirtaki” over who will control and ultimately benefit from the huge resource discoveries there.

In December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea. [1]

The southern Aegean Sea and Cretan Sea are yet to be explored, so the numbers could be significantly higher. An earlier Greek National Council for Energy Policy report stated that “Greece is one of the least explored countries in Europe regarding hydrocarbon (oil and gas-w.e.) potentials.” [2] According to one Greek analyst, Aristotle Vassilakis, “surveys already done that have measured the amount of natural gas estimate it to reach some nine trillion dollars.” [3]  Even if only a fraction of that is available, it would transform the finances of Greece and the entire region.

Tulane University oil expert David Hynes told an audience in Athens recently that Greece could potentially solve its entire public debt crisis through development of its new-found gas and oil. He conservatively estimates that exploitation of the reserves already discovered could bring the country more than €302 billion over 25 years. The Greek government instead has just been forced to agree to huge government layoffs, wage cuts and pension cuts to get access to a second EU and IMF loan that will only drive the country deeper into an economic decline. [4]

Notably, the IMF and EU governments, among them Germany, demand instead that Greece sell off its valuable ports and public companies, among them of course, Greek state oil companies, to reduce state debt. Under the best of conditions the asset selloffs would bring the country perhaps €50 billion. [5] Plans call for the Greek state-owned natural gas company, DEPA, to privatize 65% of its shares to reduce debt. [6] Buyers would likely come from outside the country, as few Greek companies are in a position in the crisis to take it.

One significant problem, aside from the fact the IMF demands Greece selloff its public oil interests, is the fact that Greece has not declared a deeper exclusive economic zone like most other countries which drill for oil. There was seen little need until now. An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) gives a state special mineral rights in its declared waters under the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in November 1994. Under UNCLOS III, a nation can claim an EEZ of 200 nautical miles from its coastline. [7]

Turkey has previously stated it would consider it an act of war if Greece drilled further into the Aegean. [8] Until now that did not seem to have serious economic consequences, as no oil or gas reserves were known. Now it’s an entirely different ballgame.

Evangelos Kouloumbis, former Greek Industry Minister recently stated that Greece could cover “50% its needs with the oil to be found in offshore fields in the Aegean Sea, and the only obstacle to that is the Turkish opposition for an eventual Greek exploitation.” [9]

Hillary dances the Sirtaki too…

In July 2011 Washington joined the Greek energy Sirtaki. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Athens with energy on her mind. That was clear by the fact she brought with her her Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, Richard Morningstar. Morningstar was husband Bill Clinton’s Special Advisor to the President on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, and one of the Washington strategic operatives in the geopolitical battles to dismember the Soviet Union and surround a chaos-ridden Russia with hostile pro-NATO former states of the USSR. Morningstar, along with his controversial aide, Matthew Bryza, have been the key Washington architects of Washington’s geopolitically-motivated oil and gas pipeline projects that would isolate Russia and its Gazprom gas resources from the EU. Bryza is an open opponent of Russian Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline that would transit the eastern Mediterranean states. [10] Clearly the Obama Administration is not at all neutral about the new Greek oil and gas discoveries. Three days after Hillary left Athens the Greek government proposed creation of a new government agency to run tenders for oil and gas surveys and ultimate drilling bids.

Morningstar is the US specialist in economic warfare against Russian energy diplomacy. He was instrumental in backing the controversial B-T-C oil pipeline from Baku through Tbilisi in Georgia across to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a costly enterprise designed solely to bypass Russian oil pipeline transit. He has openly proposed that Greece and Turkey drop all historic differences over Cyprus, over numerous other historic issues and agree to jointly pool all their oil and gas reserves in the Aegean Sea. He also has told the Greek government it should forget cooperation with Moscow on the South Stream and Bourgas-Alexandroupolis gas pipeline projects. [11]

According to a report from Greek political analyst Aristotle Vassilakis published in July 2011, Washington’s motive for pushing Greece to join forces with Turkey on oil and gas is to force a formula to divide resulting oil and gas revenues. According to his report, Washington proposes that Greece get 20% of revenues, Turkey another 20% and the US-backed Noble Energy Company of Houston Texas, the company successfully drilling in the Israeli and Greek offshore waters, would get the lion’s share of 60%. [12]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s  husband, Bill, is a Washington lobbyist for Noble Energy. [13]

And some Cyprus complications…

As if these geopolitical complications were not enough, Noble Energy, has also discovered huge volumes of gas off the waters of the Republic of Cyprus. In December 2011 Noble announced a successful well offshore Cyprus in a field estimated to hold at least 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Noble’s CEO, Charles Davidson remarked to the press, “This latest discovery in Cyprus further highlights the quality and significance of this world-class basin.” [14]

Cyprus is a complicated piece of real estate. In the 1970’s as declassified US Government documents recently revealed, then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actively encouraged and facilitated arms to the Turkish regime of Kissinger’s former Harvard student and then- Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, to stage a military invasion of Cyprus in 1974, in effect partitioning the island between an ethnically Turkish north and an ethnically Greek Republic of Cyprus in the south, a division which remains.  The Kissinger strategy, backed by the British was believed intended to create a pretext for a permanent US and British military listening post in the eastern Mediterranean during the Cold War. [15]

Today the ethnically Greek south, where Noble has discovered large gas deposits, is a member of the EU. Its President, Demetris Christofias, is the only national leader in the European Union who is a communist. He is also a close friend of Israel, and of Russia. In addition, he is a major critic of American foreign policy, as well as of Turkey. [16]

Now Israel is planning to build an underwater gas pipeline from the Israeli Levantine fields across Cyprus waters onto the Greek mainland where it would be sold on the EU market. The Cyprus and Israel governments have mutually agreed on delimitation of their respective economic zones, leaving Turkey in the cold. Turkey openly threatened Cyprus for signing the agreement with Noble Energy. That led to a Russian statement that it would not tolerate Turkish threats against Cyprus, further complicating Turkish-Russian relations. [17]

Turkish-Israeli relations, once quite friendly, have become increasingly strained in recent years under the Erdogan foreign policies. Ankara has expressed concern about Israel’s recent ties with its historic antagonists, Greece and the Greek side of Cyprus. Turkey’s ally the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, fears it could miss out on its fair share of the gas after Israel and Nicosia signed an agreement to divide the 250 kilometers of sea that separate them. [18]

It becomes evident, especially when we glance at a map of the eastern Mediterranean, that the oil and gas prospective bonanza there is a rapidly unfolding conflict zone of tectonic magnitude involving strategic US, Russian, EU, Israeli and Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese interests.

F. William Engdahl is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order        

Notes

1. Ioannis Michaletos, Greek Companies Step Up Offshore Oil Exploration—Large Reserves Possible, December 8, 2010, accessed in http://www.balkanalysis.com/greece/2010/12/08/greek-companies-step-up-offshore-oil-exploration-large-reserves-possible/.

2. Ibid.

3. Hellas Frappe, Hillary came to Greece to seal oil exploration deals!, July 21, 2011, accessed in http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2011/07/special-report-hillary-came-to-greece.html.

4. Chris Blake, Drilling for oil in the Aegean nay help ease Greece’s debt crisis, July 7, 2011, accessed in https://www.hellenext.org/reinventing-greece/2011/07/drilling-for-oil-in-the-aegean-may-help-ease-greeces-debt-crisis/

5. Ibid.

6. John Daly, Greece Considering Plugging Aegean Islands into Turkish Energy Grid, 22 November 2011, accessed in http://www.businessinsider.com/greece-considering-plugging-aegean-islands-into-turkish-energy-grid-2011-11.

7. United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982: PART VI: CONTINENTAL SHELF, Article76, Definition of the continental shelf, accessed in http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part6.htm.

8. Chris Blake, op. cit.

9. Ioannis Michaletos, op. cit.

10. Hellas Frappe, op. cit.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Hugh Naylor, Vast gas fields found off Israel’s shores cause trouble at home and abroad, January 24, 2011, accessed in http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/vast-gas-fields-found-off-israels-shores-cause-trouble-at-home-and-abroad#full.

14. Noble Energy Press Release, Significant Natural Gas Discovery Offshore Republic of Cyprus, December 28, 2011, accessed in http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/significant-natural-gas-discovery-offshore-republic-of-cyprus.

15. Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, New documents link Kissinger to two 1970s coups, June 26, 2007, accessed in http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Intelligence_officers_confirm_Kissinger_role_in_0626.html.

16. Yilan, Cyprus conflict defies ready solution, May 30, 2011, accessed in http://turkeymacedonia.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/cyprus-conflict-defies-ready-solution/.

17. Stephen Blank, Turkey and Cyprus Gas: More Troubles Ahead in 2012, Turkey Analyst, vol. 5 no. 1, 9 January 2011, accessed in http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/turkey/2012/120109B.html.

18. Hugh Naylor, op. cit.

Samsung Total revives Iran oil deal

A petrochemical plant in the South Korean city of Daesan. (file photo)

A Franco-Korean petrochemical company has revived a contract, stalled one year ago, to resume buying Iranian oil in defiance of Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Samsung Total Petrochemicals Company resumed imports from Iran by purchasing 30,000 tons of Kangan condensate, planned to be delivered to its plant in the port city of Daesan in March, Reuters reported on Friday.

Samsung Total -- a joint venture between South Korea’s Samsung Group and France’s energy giant Total -- experienced a sharp 90% fall in operating costs in the second quarter of 2012 after it stopped importing Iranian oil due to the sanctions.

“The deal can be easily understood if you look at Samsung Total's financial situation,” a Korean government source was quoted as saying.

In December 2012, South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude increased by almost a fourth compared to a year earlier.

According to statistics released by Korea Customs Service on January 15, Seoul purchased 793,361 tons of Iranian oil last month.

At the beginning of the 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.

On October 15, 2012, EU foreign ministers agreed on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

KA/MHB

Gazprom joins shale oil race

RIA Novosti / Boris Babanov

RIA Novosti / Boris Babanov

Gazprom Neft, oil arm of the energy giant Gazprom, is drilling for shale oil in Western Siberia. Realization of the shale oil project is believed to breathe new life into oil development as traditional deposits have been showing signs of dwindling.

­Gazprom Neft has started exploration of Bazhenov formation that potentially contains minimum 8-9 billion tonnes of shale oil. Saturated with oil formation lays at the depth of over 2km and occupies 1.2 million sq km in Western Siberia alone, which exceeds the territories of France and Spain combined.

How much of that oil is extractable is yet to be seen. Gazprom Neft does not expect to extract considerable volumes of shale oil earlier than in 2021, but in the end expects to extract a total of at least 150 million tonnes. Annually, the company develops over 59 million tonnes of crude oil equivalent.

The Bazhenov formation holds deposits of light low-sulfur oil with small amount of impurities; its quality is close to that of Brent.

Geologist Ivan Nesterov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Science, has been researching oil recovery from bituminous clay since 1964. For years he pointed out that the future of oil development in Russia lays in recovering oil from the horizons of Bazhenov formation.

It was Nesterov who initiated discussion on shale oil development in modern Russia and made his voice heard on the very top. He believes the Bazhenov formation might contain as much as 100 billion tonnes of shale oil.

Gazprom, which has always been reluctant to follow the American trend of shale gas development, has finally become interested in shale oil. The tendency of the last years exposed that newly-discovered oil deposits do not compensate for those going out of development. Many experts agree that Russia is facing oil development decline in the nearest future.

So Gazprom Neft opted to start developing alternative oil deposits.

“Unlike the situation with shale gas, the development of which is absolutely not relevant in Russia, Gazprom is really interested in shale oil exploration. We do intend to actively develop in this direction,” Gazprom and Gazprom Neft CEO Aleksey Miller said.

On October 26, 2012, the board of directors of Gazprom Neft adopted a new company development strategy that includes enhanced oil recovery technology and shale oil development.

Because no other company in Russia has ever invested in shale oil, Gazprom Neft needed the technology know-how because shale oil recovery is more complicated than traditional oil extraction. Gazprom’s long-standing foreign partner Royal Dutch Shell Company agreed to share the technology via Salym Petroleum Development N.V. (SPD), a 50/50 joint venture of Gazprom Neft and Royal Dutch Shell.

Actually, the shale oil drilling is currently being done by two subsidiaries, SPD and Gazpromneft-Hantos (recovers 5 per cent of all oil extracted in Russia). Both companies operate in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous region, where half (259.9 million tonnes of a total 517 million tonnes) of Russian oil is developed.

Gazprom Neft, Shell and SPD engineers jointly elaborated a road map to develop shale oil production into industrial scale.

Salym Petroleum Development is conducting a massive 3D seismic campaign, exploring new and already existing oil areas, mapping potential drilling sites to develop Bazhenov formation in Upper Salym oilfield. 

Reportedly, Russia’s leading oil companies Lukoil, Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz are undertaking shale oil extraction projects of their own. Rosneft is teaming up with the Norwegian Statoil to explore shale oil deposits of Khadum Formation in Russia’s Stavropol Region.

Lukoil turns to Mediterranean

AFP Photo / Mikhail Mordasov

AFP Photo / Mikhail Mordasov

Russia’s Lukoil is considering expanding operations to the Lebanon despite the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria, and potential risks from regional politics.

­Lukoil already operates in West Africa and Romania, may become the first Russian company drilling in the Lebanon if it wins a tender to develop the Mediterranean shelf on February, 1. 

The firm plans to develop the project in the Lebanon as part of a consortium, the head of Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov told RT Business:

 “After the discoveries that were made in Israel and Cyprus, we consider the East Mediterranean a possible new oil-and-gas region. Lukoil is a big oil firm with experience of shelf development. We are now drilling in West Africa in 3 kilometer deep water; we developed deposits in the Baltic, Azov and Caspian seas, so we think we must participate in development of the new regions.”

The company is up against some tough international competition for the contract, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil from the US and France’s Total. It’s also competing against fellow Russian company Gazprom. 

You can find more details on the news in the RT Business bulletin at 2230 Moscow time.

Australia to rival Saudi Arabia in oil reserves?

Image from www.lincenergy.com

Image from www.lincenergy.com

An Australian company claims it has found an untapped shale oil field with estimated reserves that could potentially put the country next to remarkably oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Still, extracting the discovered treasure poses a huge technical challenge.

­Brisbane-based company Linc Energy has presented two estimates by respected independent consultants claiming that drilling and seismic exploration they do in South Australia has brought the prize they have been dreaming of for years – a potentially huge untapped shale oil deposit.

DeGolyer and MacNaughton petroleum industry consulting firm evaluated potential shale oil reserves at Arckaringa Basin around the town of Coober Pedy at 103 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), while Gustavson Associates consulting firm put it as high as 233 billion BOE. That is practically comparable to the proven 263 billion barrel reserves of oil heavyweight Saudi Arabia.

The risked mean estimate given by DeGolyer and MacNaughton put it at a much more moderate 3.5 billion BOE.

"We didn't expect it to go this nuts," Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond told Reuters.

With the current international market oil prices this shale oil could be worth billions of dollars by the most conservative estimate.

"How much is recoverable is always the question. Is it 3 billion barrels or is it 203 billion barrels? Even if it's 3 or 4 billion barrels… that's a massive find in this part of the world. No matter how you cut it, it's still a massive outcome," Bond said.

In any case, Arckaringa Basin might contain more oil than all of the known Australian oilfields combined, finally making the country fully energy independent.

Though Linc Energy’s shares jumped up immediately after Australian media broadcast the news, using “trillions of dollars” and other superlative degree terms, the company still needs hundreds of millions of dollars just to finish exploration, let alone extracting the black gold commercially. The most important issue now is how much of the discovered oil is recoverable.

Linc Energy, which has already spent about AU$130 million (US$136 million) drilling in the Arckaringa Basin, has hired Barclays Bank to search for a partner to invest AU$150-$300 million into the next stage of the project.

Shale oil of the Arckaringa Basin is hidden beneath serious 1-2km of shale rock, but there is still some good news. Usually, oil is extracted from shale by traditional mining, when shale is crushed and organic matter in it is heated to create liquid oil. At Arckaringa basin engineers found oil in droplets, which means it is already liquid and can be extracted by the modern fracking process.

Unlike in the US, where fracking is widespread and has a tendency to become cheaper, in Australia the costs could be many times higher. If drilling a shale well in America has an average cost of around US$10 million, in Australia it might well reach $15 million per well.

The fracking process by itself has always been raising concerns of environmentalists in the US, where it is widely used to extract shale gas, and also in Europe, because chemicals used in this process seriously pollute groundwater. But for Arckaringa Basin, situated in a practically unpopulated area of the land Down Under, fracking shale oil may pose fewer risks.

Current oil prices optimal for consumers and producers, Russia not interested in them rising...

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev addresses the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2013. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev addresses the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2013. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

Russia is not interested in high oil prices, nor is it in them going down, PM Medvedev said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "The current level of oil prices is more or less perfect for both manufacturers and consumers," Medvedev said.

­DETAILS TO FOLLOW

China’s Iran oil imports hit 2.5 mt

File photo shows an Iranian oil facility.

China’s crude oil imports from Iran reached 2.5 million tons (mt) in December 2012, up 43 percent from November, official data show in a clear indication of the ineffectiveness of US-led sanctions against Iran’s energy sector.

According to figures released by China’s General Administration of Customs, China’s daily crude imports from Iran in December 2012 also rose 3.6 percent compared to December 2011, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

It marks China’s biggest crude import from Iran since it won a renewal of exemption from the United States’ oil embargo against Iran.


Shanghai-based oil analyst Li Li predicted that China’s oil purchase from Iran would reach between 1.7 and 2 mt per month for the first half of 2013.

For the whole 2012, the highest level of China's crude imports from Iran stood at 633,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Industry officials in China attributed the enhancement in Iran’s crude oil exports to improvement in shipment.

Iran is currently China's third largest supplier of crude, providing Beijing with roughly 12 percent of its total annual oil consumption.

At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

The sanctions came into force in early summer 2012.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded allegation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

KA/SS

China’s Iran oil import increase in Dec.

File photo shows an Iranian worker walking at an oil facility in Iran.

Official data show Iran’s crude oil exports to China soared to their second highest level in December 2012, in spite of US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s energy sector.

China imported nearly 593,390 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Iran in December last year, up 3.6 percent from the preceding year and up 39 percent from November, Reuters quoted customs figures as saying.

For the whole 2012, the highest level of China's crude imports from Iran stood at 633,000 bpd.

Industry officials in China attributed the enhancement in Iran’s crude oil exports to improvement in shipment.

“The problems with delays have improved recently. The period of delay has become shorter and overall, less frequent,” a well-informed Chinese official was quoted as saying.

Iran is currently China's third largest supplier of crude, providing Beijing with roughly 12 percent of its total annual oil consumption.

At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

The sanctions came into force in early summer 2012.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

KA/SS/MA

Iran discovers 14bn barrels of oil

Last year, Iran discovered 20 billion barrels of crude oil reserves.

Iran has discovered 14 billion barrels of crude oil reserves during the first three quarters of the current Persian calendar year (started March 20, 2012), an Iranian deputy oil minister says.

In a Monday interview, Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr noted that during the previous Iranian year (ended March 19, 2012), the country discovered 20 billion barrels of crude oil.

“A total of 14 billion barrels of crude oil reserves has been also discovered in the first nine months of the current year,” he added.

The official pointed to Iran’s 300-percent progress in discovery of oil and natural gas resources and noted that the oil ministry is currently ahead of its discovery plans.

“Even in the absence of new discoveries, Iran will be capable of producing oil for the next 140 years,” Khojasteh-Mehr pointed out.


Iran holds the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves.

The country's total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Moreover, heavy and extra-heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.

ASH/SS/MA

‘South Sudan inks oil deals with Israel’

South Sudan’s Petroleum and Mining Minister Dhieu Dau says the country has signed oil deals with several Israeli companies.

According to a statement issued by the ministry on January 18, the oil-rich East African state signed the deals with the companies to export oil to Israel.

No other details have been given regarding the agreements which were reached during Dau’s visit to Israel last week.


The announcement comes months after Israel signed a pact to cooperate on water infrastructure and technology development with South Sudan, the first economic cooperation agreement between Tel Aviv and Juba.

The deal between South Sudan and Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) was signed in July 2012, during a ceremony at the Israeli parliament.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 as part of a 2005 peace treaty, which ended decades of war between the two countries.

The new oil-rich nation is one of the least developed countries in the world, with one in seven children dying before the age of five.

MAM/HSN

Oil deposits found in southeastern Iraq

Iraq has discovered substantial crude oil reserves in the southeastern province of Maysan after its state-run petroleum production companies conducted the first exploration activities in almost three decades.

Iraqi Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP on Sunday that exploration started in Maysan, on the border with neighboring Iran, last year and the deposits of crude equivalent to one billion barrels of oil were found after studies were commissioned.

The spokesman termed the discovery as a big success for Iraq’s oil industry.

"The initial assessment from this discovery is about one billion barrels of oil," Jihad said, adding, "It will increase production capacity for Maysan Oil Company."


Iraq largely depends on oil revenues to support most state expenditures.

In recent years, the government in Baghdad has explored avenues to increase oil production in order to finance infrastructure projects across Iraq.

Iraq has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of crude oil and 3.2 trillion cubic meters (111.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas.

MP/SZH

Guest Post:Gregor Macdonald: What The End Of Cheap Oil Means

On the heels of Chris' recent report clarifying the global net energy predicament, he and PeakProsperity.com contributing editor Gregor Macdonald sit down to talk in depth about the broken relationship between energy costs and economic growth.

For much of the twentieth century, the developed world saw a steady march upwards in wages and living standards, due primarily to huge quantities of cheap, high-yielding liquid hydrocarbon. As we find ourselves bumping along the plateau of Peak Oil's apex, suddenly we find that "growth" is a lot harder to come by.

Of course, if you follow the news today, this is not the story you are hearing. Talk of an energy bonanza and imminent energy independence (in the U.S.) are everywhere, thanks to gas fracking and tight oil production. What is missing from the headlines is the cost side of the equation and a blindness towards future demand. 

For certain, shale gas will be a boon for the U.S. and some other countries. But very little is transported these days by gas, and there are no mega-sized infrastructure projects underway to change that anytime soon. Extraction of new tight oil plays is increasing production, but not by enough to offset other field declines elsewhere in the world, and not at the prices we were used to over the past century. The era of cheap oil is over, and these higher permanent prices act as a boot on the throat of economic growth. Hence the mired global economy we have been experiencing in recent years.

Rather than fooling ourselves with fanciful "energy independence" pablum, we should be looking hard at what kind of future we want to have now that oil is no longer cheap. And we should be asking ourselves in regards to the remaining fossil fuels we're extracting: How can we put these non-renewable BTUs to their best use, before they become expensive, too?

I think the main conversation we are not having is that wages are very unlikely to ever return to a relationship to energy costs that would make the United States economy into a happy economic story once again. In other words, this whole idea that we will restore that unique relationship of high wages and low energy prices -- that is what we are not dealing with. So by telling ourselves the story that we are producing more energy, you can clearly see the cultural impulse there. The cultural impulse is there is to suggest "See? There is a chance, there is a chance we can get the energy cost down again and then there is a chance that that wages will come up again. That relationship got very skewed and kicked into a nasty bad place over the past decade. That is very much a way of thinking about what our economic story is, why we had the crisis, and why this supposed emergence from the crisis that we have been plodding our way through the past several years, why it feels so dis-satisfactory, why it feels so insufficient in many respects.

This goes back to the Industrial Revolution. What caused a revolution in British wages? The appearance of coal in the British economy. Why is that? Because not only did you have human workers making stuff, but also, now you had coal helping you make stuff. Coal was the slave labor that you did not have to feed or shelter or clothe or house. And you could get coal to work for you and you could work for you, and you put it all together and it becomes high wages, and you get to pocket those high wages.

So this is the dream that we once enjoyed, here in the States with our cheap oil and our high wages. And since oil became less cheap, the wages have stagnated, and I just do not see how we are ever going to get back to that relationship again. Maybe we will talk about this; I do have some hope that we could stabilize the relationship in a future world, which is more weighted towards the power grid in which some manufacturing returns to the United States. But I think the main thing is – you asked the question, what is the main thing we are avoiding? We are avoiding the very painful prospect  – likelihood – that we will not be able to return to high wages, low prices, cheap energy.

As you point out, one of the cruel things that we left in the wake of our higher rate of growth and our cheap energy era and our high wage era was the debt. We left a tremendous amount of debt. Of course there is the public debt, but I really think what has been governing the economy in the post-crisis era has been the intractable nature of the private debt. We have both done work on charting the course of the private debt and I am sure we would agree that there has been some deleveraging that has occurred, but it is not nearly the amount of deleveraging that the media either thinks or wishes has occurred.

When you compare private debt levels to assets in the United States, yes, we are off the peak, but we are only back to 2006 levels. Most of the people I know were worried about debt levels in 2006. So to “deleverage” back to 2006 levels is not an achievement.

This promise of greater energy supply is obviously dangling out the prospect that somehow that will translate into cheaper prices and that the debt can be serviced and possible extinguished or deleveraged. But as we are finding the process is grindingly slow, and that is a big reason why the economy is grindingly slow and just does not seem to make much progress.

These things can work for a short period in the short term, and that is what we have been doing in the last five to seven years. We have been adding either expensive or marginal sources to the liquid fuel supply, as you know. This process can be thought of as one where the older more cheap oil is continually swapped out for the more expensive, unconventional, more expensive oil, and that makes for some sort of new risks when it comes to how the global economy may slow or speed up and what it may do to oil prices.

Because what I think we are going to find, especially in resource plays like the tight oil resource plays: if price goes below what it is costing these companies to extract this oil, it is actually going to be quite easy for these companies to simply stop drilling; to just stop adding additional wells. Because if you look at the actual mechanics by which wells are currently being added, they are added on a highly discretionary basis. They go in, they produce a lot of oil for a short period of time, and then they go into steep decline.

I think what people do not understand is that the Bakken is not like a traditional oil field where you are developing the whole field at one time; you are really just sticking little pin pricks into the topography of the western Dakotas. It is not like a tar sands operation, in which you sink all of the steel in the ground first over a five- to six-year engineering project and then you try to get paid back for the steel that you sunk in the ground. This is more of an inch-by-inch incremental project in the Bakken.

So what it looks to me is if price goes below sufficient levels – and I currently put that if price goes below $80-$75 a barrel for any length of time – we will just lose supply much more quickly. I just do not think the market or the economy or Wall Street has gotten its head around the fact that a good chunk of our supply now is ready to go offline at the moment that price drops. And that is probably why price has been so sustainably high, because the global futures market for oil realizes that oil that you see now costs a lot more so it is not going to willing to sell you oil two years from now at $70 or $75 a barrel. It knows that the only way that $70 or $75 a barrel oil is available two years from now is if we are back into a deep recession. I mean a deep recession.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Gregor Macdonald (48m:43s):

AP Report Raises Alarming Questions about EPA’s Oversight of Oil and Gas Drillers

WASHINGTON - January 17 - A report yesterday by the Associated Press that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew action against a natural gas company despite evidence that its drilling operations had contaminated drinking water in Texas raises alarming questions about the industry’s influence and the agency’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment.

According to an investigation by the AP’s Ramit Plushnick-Masti, the EPA dropped legal action against Range Resources Corp. even though an independent study strongly suggested that Range’s drilling operations contaminated a nearby water well. The study was conducted by scientist Geoffrey Thyne and commissioned by the EPA.

“If people can’t trust the Environmental Protection Agency to protect communities and the environment, who can they?” asked Earthworks’ Bruce Baizel. He continued, “Not the states, they leave uninspected more than 50 percent of oil and gas wells each year. So long as the public cannot rely on regulators to defend the public interest from drillers, public opposition to drilling will continue to grow.”

EWG’s Dusty Horwitt added, “From Texas to New York to California, regulators at the federal and state level have shown that they are all too willing to overlook serious drilling risks. What is even more troubling about this case is that EPA has allowed the drilling industry to criticize its scientific integrity when, all along, EPA officials had evidence of real drilling pollution. At the very least, these facts make it clear further investigation is needed, not only of Range’s activities, but also of EPA’s motivations.”

AP Report Raises Alarming Questions about EPA’s Oversight of Oil and Gas Drillers

WASHINGTON - January 17 - A report yesterday by the Associated Press that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew action against a natural gas company despite evidence that its drilling operations had contaminated drinking water in Texas raises alarming questions about the industry’s influence and the agency’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment.

According to an investigation by the AP’s Ramit Plushnick-Masti, the EPA dropped legal action against Range Resources Corp. even though an independent study strongly suggested that Range’s drilling operations contaminated a nearby water well. The study was conducted by scientist Geoffrey Thyne and commissioned by the EPA.

“If people can’t trust the Environmental Protection Agency to protect communities and the environment, who can they?” asked Earthworks’ Bruce Baizel. He continued, “Not the states, they leave uninspected more than 50 percent of oil and gas wells each year. So long as the public cannot rely on regulators to defend the public interest from drillers, public opposition to drilling will continue to grow.”

EWG’s Dusty Horwitt added, “From Texas to New York to California, regulators at the federal and state level have shown that they are all too willing to overlook serious drilling risks. What is even more troubling about this case is that EPA has allowed the drilling industry to criticize its scientific integrity when, all along, EPA officials had evidence of real drilling pollution. At the very least, these facts make it clear further investigation is needed, not only of Range’s activities, but also of EPA’s motivations.”

2007 Deja Vu As Goldman Sees $150 Oil By The Summer

While Brent closed 2012 at around its average closing price for the year, suggesting some stability, rolling a front-month contract garnered returns over 10% underscoring Jeff Currie's (Goldman's chief commodity strategist) note that money can still b...

Work starts to restore oil flow

Work to restore the flow of oil through a major UK pipeline system in the North Sea has begun. The oil company TAQA announced that it has started the process which will see production levels of crude oil reach 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) through the ...

‘Iran world’s biggest fuel oil exporter’

File photo shows gas flare of an Iranain oil production platform.

A senior Iranian oil industry official says the Islamic Republic is the world's leading exporter of fuel oil, selling an average of over 16 million liters per day of the product regardless of US-led sanctions.

Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) Mostafa Kashkouli said on Tuesday that Iran has exported 16.6 million liters of fuel oil per day since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (starting March 20, 2012).

Noting that Iran is currently among the biggest exporters of fuel oil in the world and the region, Kashkouli stated that Iran's fuel oil conforms to the highest international standards.


The official added that Iran has sold an average of about 5 million liters of fuel oil and gasoline per day to passing vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz since the beginning of the year.

The US and the EU have imposed tough sanctions against Iran's financial and oil sectors since the beginning of 2012, claiming that the country’s nuclear energy program includes a military component.

The sanctions, which prevent other countries, including the European Union member states from purchasing Iran's oil or extending insurance coverage for tankers carrying its crude, came into effect last summer.

On August 1, 2012, the US Congress approved more illegal embargoes against Tehran, which seek to punish banks, insurance companies, and shippers that help Tehran sell its oil.

Tehran refutes claims over its nuclear energy program, noting that frequent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have failed to prove any diversion in Iran's nuclear energy program toward military purposes.

PG/SS/IS

2 More Horrific Gang Rapes: Why Rage Against Women Is Boiling Over in India

Like the accused witches of Europe, women in India have become scapegoats.

January 14, 2013  |  

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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A cow, the symbol of all living things in India, may wander the streets unmolested. A woman, on the other hand, may not. Just weeks after the horrific gang rape in New Delhi that left a student dead and a nation protesting widespread violence against women, we learn of two more brutal attacks against women who were doing nothing more than traveling from one place to another.

Over the weekend, a village woman was gang-raped by seven men after boarding a bus in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab state. A second woman who got off a Delhi-bound train in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar state (one of India’s most backward), was gang-raped, murdered and her body strung from a tree in a mango orchard.

Women in the U.S. are certainly no strangers to violence, but most of us walk out the door with reasonable assurance that we will reach our destination. The ferocity of the attacks in India, combined with the indifferent responses of public officials, makes the heart lurch and the mind reel. It is not enough for the women to be raped. They must be tortured; their bodies dumped like trash or displayed as macabre trophies -- and then perhaps blamed for the violence. Hatred so fierce seems irrational and inscrutable. Women have always been the targets of male attacks, but in India today, what could be causing it to boil over into mayhem?

Looking back a few hundred years in Western history may offer us some clues to the riddle of what’s wrong in India.  

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, 500,000 people in post-medieval Europe were convicted of witchcraft and set aflame like human torches. As many as 85 percent of these people were women. Since a death sentence required a confession, torture was common, the more painful and gruesome, the better.

It’s no accident that witch trials coincide with the early modern period, when the social and economic structures of the Middle Ages were giving way to new organizations. The trials peaked between 1560 and 1630, and then faded out by the mid-18th-century. Many factors likely contributed to the slaughter, including religious clashes between Protestants and Catholics and climate-driven crop failure that caused farmers to look for something or someone to blame.

Anthropologist Marvin Harris, in his book Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, proposes that witches were targeted by the Church and secular lords to focus and divert public anger at a time of enormous economic upheaval. "The practical significance of the witch mania…,” he writes, “was that it shifted responsibility for the crisis of late medieval society from both Church and state to imaginary demons in human form." Harris argues that religious and secular authorities led the witch hunts in order to deflect the blame for bad economic conditions from themselves and to reassert their power.

But why were women the main targets? The early modern period witnessed shifts from rural, agricultural patterns of living to more urban ones. Rural landed estates were built on patriarchal structures. Clans emphasized a warlike culture to defend systems of land tenure in which women were usually degraded, their perceived helplessness and cowardice emphasized to highlight male valor and prowess.

With few exceptions, landed estates were run by men, and primogeniture (which was not universal) placed special value on male children. Strict division of labor between women and men was routine. Cruel abuse of women was certainly common, but the movement of people in these rural areas was fairly limited and oversight was intense. The early modern period brought increased mobility and changes in work relations. As feudalism declined and capitalism began to emerge, global trade took off. Transportation developed rapidly, along with technology. Land was no longer the only form of wealth that mattered; banking developed, along with insurance and investing. Women began to participate in market trade, and country girls were increasingly employed in the cities and towns.

Mali rebels vow revenge on ‘French soil’

File photo shows militants fighting against the central government in Mali.

The rebel forces fighting in northern Mali have vowed to avenge France’s military operation against them on the French soil.

Abou Dardar, the leader of one of Mali’s rebel groups called Movement and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), promised on Monday that the rebels would strike “at the heart of France” in response to its attacks on their bases.

When asked about where they would strike, Dardar said, “Everywhere, in Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”


On Sunday, French fighter jets pounded the rebel bases in the cities of Gao and Kidal in northern Mali.

At least five members of Ansar Dine, another rebel group in Mali, were killed during the French raid in Gao.

According to reports, French warplanes also launched an attack on the rebels’ stockpiles of munitions and fuel in the town of Afhabo, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Kidal. The area is a stronghold of Ansar Dine.

France began its military action in Mali on January 12 for what it said was to halt advances made by the rebels who control northern Mali.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Algeria had allowed French warplanes to use its airspace for bombings in the northern parts of Mali.

Fabius also said the United States, the UK, Denmark, and other European nations are also supporting the French-led military intervention in the African country.

Unrest erupted in Mali after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012.

The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government’s failure to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.

MKA/HSN

US Interference Spoiling Yemen’s Revolution

The latest military restructuring announced by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi brought much-needed relief to an anxious nation. Beyond establishing new regional commands to increase the Defense Ministry’s centralization, Hadi’s decrees finally terminated several high-ranking relatives of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, namely his son Ahmed and nephew Yahya. Yemenis had demanded their dismissal from Saleh’s personal “counter-terrorism” units since launching a revolution in January 2011, and both would assume instrumental roles in spearheading Saleh’s vicious crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.

Gone, too, is the First Armored Division commanded by rogue general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected from Saleh’s government in March 2011 to escape punishment and pursue his own interests. His division and Ahmed Saleh’s Republican Guard now count themselves as part of Yemen’s Special Operations Command and Strategic Reserve Forces, and theoretically fall under Hadi’s personal authority.

This news was lauded by John Brennan, the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism coordinator: “Mr. Brennan extended President Obama’s congratulations to President Hadi for the decrees issued yesterday to further restructure the Yemeni armed forces, advancing the goal of a unified, professional military that serves the Yemeni people.”

Unfortunately the jubilant air soon cleared and Yemen’s situation has tumbled back downhill in the days since. Following their “removal,” the normally resistant Salehs welcomed Hadi’s announcement and pledged to cooperate fully, triggering immediate suspicion of their payoffs. Ali Mohsen greeted Hadi’s orders as though they had nothing to do with him. Reports then surfaced to explain their reactions – new military appointments – and were half-confirmed by the spokesman of Yemen’s embassy in Washington; Mohammed Albasha announced on December 23rd that “there are no restrictions to their reappointments in the Ministry of Defense.”

Subsequent reports predict that Hadi’s decrees could take six months to implement, and that Ahmed Saleh and Ali Mohsen will continue to oversee their positions until then. If they do receive new regional commands, they can thank their ongoing survival for the immunity granted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

These collective actions serve more private interests than Yemen’s people, beginning with Hadi’s interim government and the foreign powers that secured his promotion. Although he has admirably stepped up to fill Saleh’s void after serving nearly two decades as his vice president, Hadi remains a controllable instrument of the GCC deal’s true brokers, Riyadh and Washington. That leaves Yemen’s revolutionaries – the country’s future – at the bottom of national and international priorities, at a time when they have enough interference to deal with at home. Out-resourced by the oppositional Islah party, which dips its hands into most of Yemen’s political movements, the country’s civil parties have already been isolated in the UN-sponsored National Dialogue with few seats relative to the whole (the youth and women received 60 combined seats out of 565).

They could easily be squashed by Saleh’s own General People’s Congress (GPC) and the 112 delegates they plan to sit – the most of any bloc.

As of now the Islah-dominated Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), in addition to the youth, refuses to participate in the event that Saleh does represent his party (another “medical leave” is being planned by Riyadh and Washington, but both rumor and reality are fraught with uncertainties). Conversely, Islah has interfered with efforts to organize an independent youth conference, a phenomenal idea to advance a democratic Yemen, while Ali Mohsen’s loyalists have “protected” the youth by militarizing their square at Sana’a University. The general recently agreed to withdraw his forces following persistent demonstrations against their presence, but only after months of physical altercations with the youth camps.

Yemen’s youth and women are tragically viewed as groups to appease with scraps, not sources of national power to nurture and cooperate with. They have found few allies inside or outside the country due to their independent agenda, and cannot turn to the United States in their hour of need. The second incarnation of Yemen’s Life March, a mobile demonstration traveling from the revolutionary hub of Ta’izz in December 2011 en route to Sana’a, recently arrived in the capital to remind Hadi and his foreign backers that they won’t back down either. With no action taken by their transitional government or the UNSC, Yemenis once again marched to advocate their standing demands: “Dismissal of all military leaders who worked with Saleh, headed by Ahmad Ali Saleh, Ali Mohsen Saleh, Ghalib Algamesh and fully dismissing them and not reshuffling their positions in the new appointments, whatever the circumstances.”

The march ended when government forces blocked its path and violently dispersed protesters with tear gas, eroding another piece of the goodwill initially earned by Hadi’s military shakeup.

U.S. influence is hardly responsible for all of Yemen’s political dilemmas and the tribal knots created by Saleh’s nepotism. However the sheer gravity of America’s counter-terrorism is warping Yemen’s political and military reforms. The Obama administration no longer has practical use for Saleh and company, but they also possess too much incriminating evidence on Saudi and U.S. actions in Yemen to be cast away completely. Instead Saleh has been kept close, traveling to America twice since the revolution began, and silent under the GCC’s immunity package. Potential sanctions against “spoilers” – the always unnamed Saleh – remain a manipulative tool to avoid accountability.

In the meantime U.S. drones continue to strike at suspected targets of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), accumulating enough collateral damage to produce a bombshell report by The Washington Post. Hadi has opened a wider door than his predecessor in exchange for U.S. and Saudi support, approving the Obama administration’s covert activities and moving to kill inquiries into civilian casualties. This relationship-building and the preservation of mutual interests is more responsible for Hadi’s decrees than any genuine effort to uproot Saleh’s regime from Yemen’s political equation.

Ultimately, Ali Abdullah Saleh cannot be held accountable for decades of misrule because the U.S. and Yemen’s power-sharing government are working outside the bounds of accountability. The fact that Washington and Riyadh have exhausted their operational need for his regime is far from stabilizing, and poses an enhanced threat to Yemen’s democratic growth. One can reasonably assume that Washington will possess greater influence over Hadi’s Special Operations Command than Saleh’s U.S.-trained units. Counterterrorism activities are being established in systematic fashion – land, sea and air forces surround the peninsula nation – but U.S. policy as a whole represents counterinsurgency at its worse: deep hostility and mistrust with the local population.

The Obama administration cannot realistically expect to defeat AQAP with its current strategy, and the same power that lifted Hadi to his current position is weighing him down with his own people.

“The main problem is not only with the US administration – extrajudicial killings in Yemen of ‘suspected’ targets, killing and terrorizing civilians and creating animosity towards the US – but rather with our government’s position, approving those drone strikes,” says Noon Arabia, a Yemeni-Egyptian blogger who maintains her anonymity for personal and security reasons. “Former president Saleh with all his shortcomings tried to hide his role in allowing the US drones to strike in Yemen, before being exposed by Wikileaks. However his predecessor President Hadi not only publicly endorsed them, he even argued regarding their accuracy. Drone strikes in Pakistan decreased by 41% in 2011 and another 40% in 2012 because the Pakistani government publicly condemned and disapproved of them. Yet in Yemen they have increased by 240% in 2011, and another 250% in 2012 and most likely will increase further in 2013 thanks to our puppet government.”

Yemen’s revolutionaries are marching, bleeding and dying for a better future than what is currently being forced onto them. The U.S. would be wise to begin a new era of engagement and vanquish the same fear that is normally reserved for al-Qaeda.

‘Iran friends top priority in oil exports’

Iran’s Oil Ministry spokesman says Tehran will give its oil export priority to countries which have supported Tehran in the face of the West’s embargoes against the country’s nuclear energy program.

In a Wednesday interview, Alireza Nikzad pointed to the latest requests by some European countries for purchasing the Iranian crude and noted, “At present, Iran’s oil export priority is given to the countries which cooperated with us during crisis.”

Nikzad pointed out that Iran has rejected the European countries’ request for purchasing the Iranian oil, adding, “Iran is currently adopting a clever policy in the oil market.”


The Iranian energy official stated that Iran plans to remain a reliable and long-term energy supplier for different countries, particularly in the Southeast and East Asia.

Referring to the West’s embargoes against Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program, he added, “Despite all these sanctions, the European countries have expressed astonishment at the technological progress and indigenous production of most of the products and equipment in Iran’s oil industry.”

Nikzad pointed to the new study by Petroleum Intelligence Weekly which ranks the National Iranian Oil Company as the world’s second largest oil firm after Saudi Arabia's Aramco, and argued that such status for Iran unmasks the futility of the West’s embargoes against Iranian oil industry.

At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union (EU) imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.

On October 15, the EU foreign ministers agreed on another round of sanctions against Iran.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions have been imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

ASH/SS

NIOC world’s 2nd largest oil co.

File photo shows the facade of Iran's Oil Ministry.

An international energy research magazine has ranked the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) as the world’s second largest oil firm.

In a new report by Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW), the NIOC was ranked the world’s second biggest oil company after Saudi Arabia's Aramco in terms of the extent of operations as well as oil and gas reserves and products.

The PIW report which examines world’s 50 top oil and gas companies in 2011 fiscal year, ranked China’s CNPC, UK’s British Petroleum, Russia’s Gazprom and Norway’s Statoil after the NIOC.


Iran holds the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves.

The country's total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Moreover, heavy and extra-heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.

ASH/SS

Yemen stops oil flows after bombing

Yemen stops oil flows after unidentified attackers target a section of the country’s main pipeline. (File photo)

Yemen has halted its oil flows again following an incident where unknown assailants blew up a section of the country’s main crude pipeline in a bomb attack.

A Yemeni Oil Ministry official said on Thursday that the bombing of the pipeline “made us stop the crude pumping from the fields to the export terminal.”

On December 31, 2012, Yemen resumed oil pumping at a rate of around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the latest repairs to the Maarib pipeline, which used to carry around 110,000 bpd before a wave of attacks began in 2011.


However, unidentified assailants attacked the pipeline again by placing a roadside bomb near a section of it in the Serwah area of the central province of Maarib, only 10 days after the flows restarted.

Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged in recent months. Armed groups targeted gas pipelines feeding the Balhaf terminal in October, September, August, May and March 2012.

Yemen’s economy depends on oil and gas production, with petroleum exports accounting for more than 60 percent of the country’s budget.

MKA/HSN

Shale to drive oil production in US to new high by 2014

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Underpinned by the shale revolution, daily oil production in the US is set to fly sky high in 2014, marking the highest level since 1988, according to US government.

Domestic crude oil production should continue to rise to 7.3mn bbl/d in 2013, after it increased 0.8mn bbl/d to 6.4mn bbl/d during 2012, according to estimations by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is to be followed by a further increase to 7.9mn bbl/d in 2014, which will bring growth to 23% in the next 2 years.

The daily production rate will jump 900,000 barrels between 2012 and 2013, a record for growth in a single year, as media quotes the agency's administrator, Adam Sieminski, talking in a conference call to reporters.

"That is the largest single-year growth in U.S. production all the way back to the Drake oil well in Titusville, Pa., in 1859," Sieminski said – referring to the beginnings of US oil production. "That is pretty impressive."

In November 2012 the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said that shale would largely help the United States become a net fuel exporter by 2030 and achieve energy independence by 2035. But one of the key components of developing shale resources – hydraulic fracturing process – remains a key issue for the real developments and a point of heated debate.

Protesters say the process is too costly and ecologically unfriendly, while advocates insists bigger energy production from shale is a way to energy independence and lower imports.

Any regulatory changes that affect the production of oil and gas from shale could change the rosy outlook pretty quickly, Sieminski warned.

"If there were to be changes associated with hydraulic fracturing, which is the basis for the growth in natural gas and oil, that would raise costs in that area that could have some impact," Sieminski said.

Hydraulic fracturing is a major concern for environmentalists across the globe. It is a controversial technique in which high-pressurized water and chemicals are pumped into rock formations deep below the earth's surface to produce gas and oil, carrying a risk of earthquakes and water pollution.

Most recently, in early December 2012 people in the UK protested against a possible lift of the temporary ban on the method. Activists sent a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron stating that ‘fracking’ is a “an unpredictable, unregulatable process" that is damaging to the environment. The advocates, in turn, say that the method is set to increase UK’s energy supply and cut the country’s energy imports.

Iran begins oil production in joint field

Iran begins pumping crude from an oil field it shares with neighboring Iraq. (File photo)

Iran has officially begun pumping crude from an oil field it shares with it western neighbor Iraq, the managing director of the Iranian Central Oil Fields Company (ICOFC) says.

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Mehdi Fakour said development and crude oil production from the Aban oil field has started.

Iran shares oil and gas fields with most of its neighbors, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.

The official noted that Iran has not lagged behind its neighboring countries in developing the fields it shares, adding, “Currently, ten drilling rigs are operating simultaneously in the country’s joint oil fields.”


Fakour also stated that since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year [March 20, 2012], USD1.2 billion of funds have been supplied by companies other than the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for investment in Iran’s oil and gas projects.

Iran holds the world's third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves.

The country's total in-place oil reserves have been estimated at more than 560 billion barrels, with about 140 billion barrels of extractable oil. Moreover, heavy and extra heavy varieties of crude oil account for roughly 70-100 billion barrels of the total reserves.

Iranian energy officials said in July 2011 that as much as 35 percent of the country's energy development budget would go towards the development of the shared oil fields.

PG/SS

Iran admits oil exports fall by 40 percent amid crippling Western sanctions

A view of a petrochemical complex in Assaluyeh seaport at the Persian Gulf 1400 km (870 miles) south of Tehran. (Reuters / Morteza Nikoubazl)

A view of a petrochemical complex in Assaluyeh seaport at the Persian Gulf 1400 km (870 miles) south of Tehran. (Reuters / Morteza Nikoubazl)

Iran’s oil exports have plummeted by 40 percent as a result of harsh Western sanctions targeting the country’s nuclear program, the country’s oil minister admitted Monday. Tehran previously denied the sanctions were having any meaningful impact.

Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told the country's budget and planning parliamentary commission on Monday that apart from the steep decline in oil sales, there had also been  “a 45 percent decrease in repatriating oil money," the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) cites him as saying.

Iran, once the second-biggest crude exporter in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, after Saudi Arabia, historically relied on revenue from oil exports to provide for a large portion of the state budget.

In 2011, for example, oil exports brought in some $100 billion, covering 60 percent of state expenditure.

In light of western sanctions, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that Iranian oil exports more than halved from 2.4 million barrels per day in 2011 to 1.0 by the end of 2012.

As a result, Iran is now the fifth-biggest crude exporter in OPEC, with Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela pulling ahead, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Qasemi’s admission could prove significant, as he had previously been the most vehement in denying that EU and US sanctions had any significant impact on the country’s economy.

In July of last year, Western nations began targeting Iran's energy sector with harsh sanctions over the country’s uranium enrichment program. The European Union (EU) proscribed member states from buying oil from the Islamic Republic. Exports to Asia were subsequently targeted by an EU insurance ban on Iranian oil shipping and US sanctions against Tehran's central bank.

US sanctions which severely limit Iran's ability to use international banking transactions to repatriate oil revenues are costing the country some $5 billion per month, AFP reports.

On Monday, a report from the Islamic Republic’s Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU) said “nearly all of Iran’s oil exports now go to China, South Korea, Japan and India,” state-owned Mehr News Agency said.

The report cited a particular dependence on China, which is now estimated to purchase some 50 percent of Iran’s total oil exports.

But China also reduced shipments of Iranian crude by more than 20 percent in the first 11 months of 2012, the Paris-based IEA said.

Despite the impact sanctions are having on the country's economy, Iran has thus far been unwilling to make concessions, arguing that a peaceful nuclear program is an inalienable right for any state.

The West hopes the sanctions will force Iran to the negotiating table as an alternative to military intervention.

Turkey says will extend Iran oil deal

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says the country's sole oil refiner, Tupras, will extend a contract with Tehran to purchase crude oil from the Islamic Republic.

"Turkey's oil purchase contract with Iran expires in August. This contract will definitely be extended because Iran covers about 45-40 percent of Turkey's oil needs," Yildiz told reporters in Libyan capital, Tripoli, late on Sunday.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

Yildiz, however, stated that Tupras, which is controlled by Turkey's biggest company Koc Holding, will continue to buy the same amount of oil from Iran as it has been under the US exemption.


On December 7, the United States granted 180-day waivers on Iran oil sanctions to Turkey, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Taiwan

The December action was the second renewal for all 20 after Obama signed the sanctions into law a year ago.

The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

SF/SS/MA

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The wildlife affected by the Gulf oil spill disaster are in dire need. An estimated 47 million gallons of oil has spewed into the...

BP chief admits he could lose his job following the oil spill

BP's chief has admitted he might lose his job over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, said...

Oil Rig Companies to Face Questioning

PBS Executives from the three companies tied to the Gulf Coast oil spill head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Lawmakers from two Senate committees...

Oil Spill Could Cost USA More Than $14 billion

The oil spill heading toward Louisiana from the Deepwater Horizon rig could exceed $14 billion, according to analysts. In the two weeks since the explosion...

At least 30 reported killed as Indians protest oil and gas exploration in Peru

Indians protesting oil and gas exploration on their lands battled police in Peru's remote Amazon yesterday, with authorities and Indian leaders reporting at least...

OLC Authorized Pentagon to Ignore Bill of Rights On U.S. Soil

By Daphne Eviatar | In an October 2001 memo released on Monday, then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo advised...

Iraqi government fuels ‘war for oil’ theories by putting reserves up for biggest ever...

Terry Macalister and Nicholas Watt | The biggest ever sale of oil assets will take place today, when the Iraqi government puts 40bn barrels...

New Documents Reveal Unlawful Guantanamo Procedures Were Also Applied On American Soil

Market Watch | According to newly released military documents, the Navy applied lawless Guantanamo protocols in detention facilities on American soil. The documents, which...

Why weren’t managers charged in oil-sex scandal?

By Marisa Taylor | The Interior Department's watchdog criticized the Justice Department on Thursday for declining to prosecute the managers of an oil- and...

Tools to Expose Big Oil’s Influence on Our Political System

You can use Oil Change USA's tools to educate, activate and engage people coming to your website and blog by: launching an email campaign that...

SchNEWS DRILLS FOR THE TRUTH IN PEAK OIL THEORY

SchNEWS | From Transition Town workshops to the city slickers at the Financial Times (to over-excited pieces in ill-researched journals like SchNEWS), there’s been...

US oil pipeline politics and the Russia-Georgia conflict

By Alex Lantier | US media claims about Georgian democracy notwithstanding, a key factor in US backing for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in his...

The Secret Deal For Iraq’s Oil

The Public Record | Four months before the United States invaded Iraq, the Department of Defense was secretly working with Vice President Dick Cheney's old...

Iraq’s oil-fueled surplus could hit $80 billion, report says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq is raking in more money from oil exports than it is spending, amassing a projected four-year budget surplus of up...

Chomsky: Bush & Cheney Always Saw Iraq as a Sweetheart Oil Deal

By Noam Chomsky | U.S. war planners want an obedient client state that will house major U.S. military bases, right at the heart of...

War, oil caused most U.S recessions since 1950

Reuters | Wars and sharp spikes in oil prices were behind most of the seven recessions in the United States since the Great Depression. Following...

It’s the Oil, stupid!

By Noam Chomsky | The deal just taking shape between Iraq's Oil Ministry and four Western oil companies raises critical questions about the nature...

Iran blames West for ‘artificially’ raising oil prices, says war threat is a ‘joke’

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia | Iran's president again took aim at the West, blaming the U.S. and Europe for "artificially" raising oil prices and dismissing as...

Happy Oil Dependence Day

By Robert Scheer | As we head into the Fourth of July weekend of patriotic bluster and beer swilling – but before we are...

US advisers steered Iraqi oil contracts to Western firms

By Bill Van Auken | As the Iraqi regime formally opened the bidding for foreign oil companies to resume exploitation of the country’s oil...

U.S. Advised Iraqi Ministry on Oil Deals

By ANDREW E. KRAMER | A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up...

Kucinich: We went to Iraq for oil

Press TV | Rep. Dennis Kucinich has accused the US of forcing Iraq to privatize its oil fields and keeping US troops at war...

Big Oil’s Big Lie

By George Monbiot | Of course, it’s not a crime, and it’s hard to see how, in a free society, it could or should...

“Blood and Oil” an Important Film to See and Share

ADS | "Blood and Oil" is a very, very well made film that will show you something new even if you already know that...

An alternative to oil?

By Lee Waters | Oil prices could reach $200 a barrel by the end of the year, and the cost of filling up is...

Urgent Appeal from Iraqi Oil Workers

From US Labor Against the War | We have just received an urgent message from Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of...

Oil: A global crisis

The Iraq War means oil costs three times more than it should, says a leading expert. How are our lives going to change as...

US Oil Major Complicit in Abuses – Rights Lobby

By Marwaan Macan-Markar - IPS | An environmental group is warning U.S. energy giant Chevron to clean up its act in Burma or face legal proceedings...

We Must Imagine a Life Without Oil

By Mark Hertsgaard - The Nation | It used to be that only environmentalists and paranoids warned about running out of oil. Not anymore. As climate...

Iraqi oil pipeline blown up again

BBC News | An oil pipeline south of Baghdad has been blown up, wounding at least eight security guards, Iraqi police say. The blast,...

Iran torpedoes US plans for Iraqi oil

In the highly competitive world of international politics, nation states very rarely miss an opportunity to crow about success stories. The opportunity comes rare,...

Those who control oil and water will control the world

New superpowers are competing for diminishing resources as Britain becomes a bit-player. The outcome could be deadly. John Gray | The Observer History may not repeat...

Oil, Gas and the New World Order

Large Potential Albanian Oil and Gas Discovery Underscores Kosovo's Importance By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News On January 10, Swiss-based Manas Petroleum Corporation broke the news. Gustavson...

Iraq oil production rises to 2.4m barrels a day

Martin Fletcher in Baghdad and Robin Pagnamenta Oil production in Iraq is at its highest level since the US-led invasion of 2003, reaching 2.4...

VIDEO: Shell Oil – corporate criminals

Oil company business as usual Blood and oil in Ireland We hear about a looming energy shortage and we see high fuels prices. The media talks...

Gordon Brown threatens Iran’s oil interests

Gordon Brown threatens Iran’s oil interests unless it curbs nuclear ambition Philip Webster Gordon Brown last night proposed a worldwide ban on companies developing Iran’s oil...

Brazil discovers vast new oil reserves

Brazil has discovered huge new petroleum reserves in its south that could turn the country into one of the biggest oil producers in the...

Lindsey Williams Videos on the Oil/Energy ‘Crisis’

I mention Lindsey Williams' revelations in a few articles on the phony "Peak Oil" scam promoted by CIA agent Michael Ruppert and the Highway...

SALT WATER AS FUEL, Energy from tap water- whatever next? Why use dirty oil?

SALT WATER AS FUEL, Energy from tap water- whatever next? An Engine that runs off GRAVITY? Well - YES! Check it out. Have you seen...

How to Foil a Terrorist Plot in Seven Simple Steps

Nora Ephron 1. In order to foil a terrorist plot, you must first find a terrorist plot. This is not easy. 2. Not just anyone can...

Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil

Graham Paterson AMERICA’s elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in...

Schools adopt swipe cards for toilet breaks

By Sarah Price Here, Sir: Jasmine Carr demonstrates Ryde Secondary College's swipe-card system, which monitors students' movements. Photo: Janie Barrett PARENTS are pushing for a statewide roll-out...

From Mad Cow Disease to Agrochemicals: Time to Put Public Need Ahead of Private...

The first part of this article documenting the development of BSE in Britain was written by Rosemary Mason and is taken from her new...

From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Toxic Agriculture Is the Problem Not the Solution

Why did the European Food Safety Authority claim that glyphosate was not ecotoxic? This is the question environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason poses in her...

Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India: Political Posturing, Displaying Contempt for the...

In February 2010, the Indian government placed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. Prior to this decision, numerous independent scientific experts...

The Terrorists within. Intel Community Cyberwarriors attack civilians 1

For the last 5 years, I had the opportunity to open up what was a hidden aspect of today’s Western Civilization and is becoming...

Bt Brinjal Illegally Growing in India: Who Is Really Pulling the Strings?

In February 2010, the Indian government placed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. Prior to this decision, numerous independent scientists from...

LNR May 2019 AntiNationalist Roundtable

  On May 2nd, the civic organization “Memorial” and the Federation of Trade Unions in Lugansk People’s Republic held an international roundtable at the Russian World Hall...

Is Ukraine’s president elect Zelenskiy a Rabid Nationalist?

Although the investigation isn’t complete, I have uncovered all the working parts that make an impossible story not only plausible but show the election...

Is Brexit to blame for the uptick in Northern Ireland violence, and what is...

The murder of journalist Lyra McKee and a spate of recent incidents of violence attributed...

Is Brexit to blame for the uptick in Northern Ireland violence, and what is...

The murder of journalist Lyra McKee and a spate of recent incidents of violence attributed...

Pompeo Finally Tells the Truth: ‘We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have vowed to strangle Iran and cut off all...

Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair Whatever might come of the remaining details of the Mueller probe, lessons ‘learned’ by the American press won’t be among...

An eco-friendly deathstyle? Washington poised to legalize HUMAN composting — RT USA News

Washington is poised to become the first US state to legalize the “natural organic reduction” of...

‘The FBI Appears to Be Engaged in a Modern-Day Version of COINTELPRO’ – CounterSpin...

Janine Jackson interviewed Nusrat Choudhury about FBI targeting of black activists for the April 12, 2019, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited...

RussiaGate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair Now that Mueller’s $40 million Humpty Trumpty investigation is over and found wanting of its original purpose (to retire Trump),...

Ron Paul speaks against US militarism feasting on China & Russia threats — RT...

The US should step away from belligerent rhetoric and wind down its wasteful militaristic policies, former...

Jeremy Corbyn warns UK’s parliament is a fire risk, in wake of Notre-Dame blaze...

There is a “huge” risk the Palace of Westminster could fall victim to a similarly...

Green New Deal Could “Remake Not Just a Broken Planet, But a Broken Society”

President Trump signed two executive orders last week to facilitate the approval of pipeline projects at a federal level, limiting states’ ability to regulate...

Diego Garcia: The “Unsinkable Carrier” Springs a Leak

Photograph Source Laurens~commonswiki – Public Domain The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands — with its huge U.S....

World Bank, Now Led by Trump Pick, Ramps Up Fossil Fuel Development

The World Bank Group faces criticism for continuing to back fossil fuel development, despite moves to clean up its portfolio. It has earned green credentials...

US college offers ‘angry white males’ course; white men get angry — RT USA...

The University of Kansas is offering a course called “Angry White Male Studies,” purporting to “chart...

Trump reposts meme-video of ‘sniffer’ Joe Biden, rustles jimmies on Twitter — RT USA...

President Donald Trump reminded Twitter that he is the heavyweight sh*tposting champion of the world, tweeting...

The top 5 Democrat conspiracies ranked — RT USA News

The earth is flat; FEMA is controlled by shape-shifting reptilians; water additives are turning the freaking...

Unsealed Assange indictment proves Chelsea Manning’s imprisonment is ‘purely punitive’ – legal team —...

Chelsea Manning's team has demanded her release in light of the revelation that US charges against...

Impartial trial? UK judge brands Julian Assange ‘narcissist’ in courtroom — RT UK News

The UK judge who found Julian Assange guilty of breaking his bail conditions in 2012...

5 times video games were just blatant US war propaganda — RT USA News

It’s long been known that Hollywood works hand-in-glove with the CIA to produce entertainment imbued with...

Biden quip about US-Israel ties sets Twitter on edge — RT USA News

An unearthed clip of Joe Biden explaining that if there was no Israel, the “US would...

WikiLeaks supporters mobilize to prevent Ecuador from expelling Assange from UK embassy — RT...

Supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are making their voices heard, despite the institutions united...

British Army chief mocked on Twitter for ‘laughable’ video on military scandals — RT...

A stern video posted by the British Army chief has created quite a stir online...

British Army chief mocked on Twitter for ‘laughable’ video on military scandals — RT...

A stern video posted by the British Army chief has created quite a stir online...

Tips for a Post-Mueller Media from Nine Russiagate Skeptics – Evidence-based journalists on...

  So many in media got so much so wrong over the past two years as they put all of their eggs in the basket...

CNN and WashPo Demand That Trump

‘A Lot of That Science They Point to Is Science They Paid For’ –...

Janine Jackson interviewed Carey Gillam about Hardeman v. Monsanto for the March 29, 2019, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

Election meddling sanctions bill has its day in the Senate — RT USA News

Mueller may have had his day, but the specter of Russian meddling still hangs over Washington....

one dead, two injured — RT USA News

A Texas chemical plant has gone up in flames, spewing black smoke into the air northeast...

MSNBC’s Maddow keeps spinning Russian collusion hysteria, even as her OWN NETWORK corrects her...

The post-Mueller comedown has been hard for many MSM journalists, but none more so than MSNBC’s...

2019 Indian General Election: Manifesto Demand for Indefinite Moratorium on GMOs

A new ‘Political Manifesto’ has demanded an indefinite moratorium on the environmental release of GMOs in India pending independent and rigorous biosafety risk assessment...

Trump’s push to lift offshore drilling bans 'illegal': Judge

President Trump's move to lift bans on drilling for oil and gas in offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas is illegal, a US judge has...

Russiagate: Tragedy, Not Farce

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair The left is an uplifting space of solidarity because it is a place that keeps track of the least of...

Labor Law Doesn’t Apply if You’re in Prison

It should have been a straightforward case: In 2015, Kendall Charles Alexander, Sr., an African-American man who was incarcerated in New Jersey, filed a...

The Russians Are Not Coming!

A Secret History of Self Interest – Consortiumnews

The idea that Westminster is the “mother of all parliaments,” representing a democratic model for the world, is a cultivated...

Miami-Dade mayor gives Guaido’s wife ‘key to the county’ as US fawns over rebel...

Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuela's US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, has been given royal treatment...

Miami-Dade mayor gives Guaido’s wife ‘key to the county’ as US fawns over rebel...

Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuela's US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, has been given royal treatment...

Miami-Dade mayor gives Guaido’s wife ‘key to the county’ as US fawns over rebel...

Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuela's US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, has been given royal treatment...

Re: The Green New Deal: First, Shoot the Economists

Photograph Source Senate Democrats Note: please do not shoot economists. The title is a metaphor. Soon to be released research from the United Nations is expected...

Federal Judge Halts Drilling on Public Lands Over Climate Concerns

Despite the president’s attempts at packing the courts, the Trump administration hasn’t done so well at the federal level these days. The latest blow...

‘Swamp monster’ photobombs Trump nominee hearing (VIDEO) — RT USA News

Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” took a bizarre turn when ‘swamp monsters' turned out...

AOC Demolishes GOP Claim That Green New Deal Is “Elitist”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, on Tuesday, Republican Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin suggested the Green New Deal only served the wealthy. REP. SEAN DUFFY: focus...

‘They Had Already Decided They Wanted to Invade Iraq’ – CounterSpin interviews with Robert...

The CounterSpin episode for March 22, 2019, reaired classic interviews with Robert Dreyfuss (2/27/04) and Diana Duarte (3/22/13) about media’s Iraq War roles. ...

Residents an Afterthought in Public Housing Privatization Coverage

Privatization of New York City’s public housing got a warm reception in much of the local press (Daily News, 11/21/18). When governments propose multi-billion-dollar programs,...

Maduro blames the US, but is it possible? — RT USA News

Venezuela is suffering its second major electricity blackout in a month, prompting more accusations from President...

The Fox in the Henhouse: Bernhardt at Interior

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair Everyone has heard the old saying about “the fox guarding the hen house” — which generally means you wind up with...

Pathological Deceit: The NYT Inverts Reality on Venezuela’s Cuban Doctors

by Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz A New York Times “exposé” (3/17/19) of Cuban doctors’ supposed interference in Venezuelan elections was riddled with inaccuracies, omissions...

Anti-Semitism and Double Standards – Consortiumnews

Criticizing Israel is considered bad form, writes Daniel Lazare, but keeping mum about Saudi crimes is fine as long as...

The Homeless 8-Year-Old Chess Champion and Other Horrific ‘Uplifting’ Stories

  (Twitter, 7/19/18) by Alan MacLeod This story of an eight-year-old who’s been homeless for more than a year should “make you smile,” says the New York...

Four Years of the War on Yemen

Originally appeared on The American Conservative. This week marks the fourth year since the beginning of the Saudi coalition’s war on Yemen. In the last...

The War of Lies – LewRockwell

Foreign-Owned Corporations Funnel Millions Into US Elections

After the Federal Election Commission hit the Jeb Bush-affiliated Right to Rise super PAC with a record fine for illegally soliciting donations from foreign...

Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream

Abandoned mill and power plant along the Willamette River, West Linn, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair. + If the Democratic race boils down to Biden...

Everyone Washington Supports, by Definition, Is a Moderate Centrist

by Alan MacLeod The CBC (1/23/19) answers its question by saying he comes from a a “centrist social-democratic party.” The Trump administration seems to have found...

Mozambique Is Drowning. Nebraska Has Flooded. We Need a Green New Deal.

The ocean has come for the coastal African nation of Mozambique. Tropical Cyclone Idai, a devastating storm that pummeled the country with fierce winds,...
video

Video: Lampedusa: Way to Paradise or Hell for African migrants? (RT Documentary)

As the turmoil of revolutions brought economic instability to many African countries, their citizens began to look across the sea, to Europe, for a...

Boom! Wisconsin GOP’s Lame-Duck Power Grab Ruled Unconstitutional

A Wisconsin judge ruled on Thursday that laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in December to limit the powers of newly elected Democratic Governor...
video

Video: Haiti entrenched in a “terrible uprising” after end of support from Venezuela

Protesters in Haiti are demanding President Jovenel Moïse resign over government corruption and mismanagement of the country's oil fund. Journalist Kim Ives ... Via Youtube
video

Video: Anti-Government Protests Continue in Haiti; New Details Emerge About Role of U.S. Mercenaries

Ongoing protests are roiling Haiti, as demonstrators take to the streets to demand President Jovenel Moïse's resignation due to government corruption and ... Via Youtube

Special UK armed soldiers in ‘NUCLEAR-PROOF BUNKER’ have been ‘activated’ to prepare for Brexit...

A team of highly-trained British military personnel, located in no less than a “nuclear-proof...

And Now Algeria

Photograph Source Magharebia It has now been nine years since protests broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. After citizens took to the...

Mother accused of abusing 7 adopted children to force them into making YouTube videos...

Arizona police have arrested an adoptive mother of seven children who allegedly starved and beat them...

Bloomberg’s Armsmaker-Funded Columnist Wants You to Know: Military Spending Is Woke

by Adam Johnson Progressives are told to love the Pentagon budget (Bloomberg, 3/17/19) by a pundit whose connection to the military/industrial complex isn’t disclosed. You may...

Bloomberg’s Armsmaker-Funded Columnist Wants You to Know: Military Spending Is Woke

by Adam Johnson Progressives are told to love the Pentagon budget (Bloomberg, 3/17/19) by a pundit whose connection to the military/industrial complex isn’t disclosed. You may...

Tracing the Con(tours) of the Inverted Narratives that Bedevil ‘The West’

Those who allow seriousness to get in the way of imagination, fail to discover what they need to free themselves from. For many decades I...

Venezuela: US Imperialism Is Based On Lies And Threats

We are completing what became more than a week-long peace delegation to Venezuela organized by the US Peace Council and the Committee for International...
video

Video: More video of Greek riots: Fierce street battles rage in Athens

Follow latest updates on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RTnews and Twitter: http://twitter.com/RT_com Greece is at boiling point - with police firing tear gas ... Via Youtube

Tank with carcinogenic chemical goes up in flames in Texas, residents urged to shut...

A petrochemical storage facility has caught fire in Deer Park, Texas, sending thick plumes of potentially...

‘Washington Doesn’t Like Countries to Have Influence if They Can’t Control Them’ – CounterSpin...

The March 8, 2019 episode of CounterSpin pulled together classic archival interviews on Venezuela and US media. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

Pro and Anti-Venezuela Coup Protestors Face Off in Front of White House – Consortiumnews

Demonstrators for and against regime change in Venezuela converged on the White House on Saturday and there were some angry...

The US Flag Is Soaked

British MPs vote for delay — RT UK News

British lawmakers have voted to delay Brexit beyond deadline day – March 29 – and...

India’s Agrarian Crisis: Dismantling ‘Development’

In his 1978 book ‘India Mortgaged’, T.N. Reddy predicted the country would one day open all sectors to foreign direct investment and surrender economic sovereignty to...

Support HR1004: The Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act

Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Just Foreign Policy: March 13th, 2019 Dear Speaker Pelosi: We write to request your support for the bipartisan measure, H.R.1004...

Walls closing in on Britain as Brexit mayhem escalates — RT UK News

With the EU unwilling to make Brexit simpler for Britain in any significant way, it...

To Help Venezuela, the U.S. Must Use Diplomacy, not a Military Coup

The United States is pushing for an overthrow of the government of Venezuela. The Trump administration has denounced Nicolas Maduro as a “dictator,” dismissing...

Snap-Shots along the Road of Life

You road I travel and look around!  I believe you are not all that is here!  I believe that something unseen is also here. — Walt...

Green New Deal Tour Aims to Make 2020 a National Referendum on Visionary Energy...

The youth activists leading the Sunrise Movement are expanding the scope of a planned nationwide tour into a wider initiative to ensure the Green...

Grand Jury Efforts: Jailing Chelsea Manning

“I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury.”  So explained Chelsea Manning in justifying her refusal to answer questions and comply...

Tensions ratchet up between Venezuela, US

The US will be withdrawing all its diplomats from Venezuela, as President Nicolas Maduro says a “demonic” plot by the US is underway to...

But where are all the wars? Dick Cheney tears into ‘isolationist’ Pence at neocon...

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has attacked the Trump administration’s “isolationist” foreign policy, lecturing Mike...

Tucker Carlson Called Iraqis ‘Semiliterate Primitive Monkeys’ in Racist Radio Tirade

Fox News host Tucker Carlson referred to Iraqis as "semiliterate primitive monkeys" who should "just shut the fuck up and obey us" in recordings...

Group of ‘cops’ filmed beating unarmed black man in VIRAL VIDEO — RT UK...

Footage apparently showing unidentified officers repeatedly and viciously beating an unarmed man over the head...